Skip to main content

Full text of "British weights and measures as described in the laws of England from Anglo-Saxon times"

See other formats


Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/britishweightsmeOOwatsuoft 



BRITISH WEIGHTS AND MEASURES 



BRITISH WEIGHTS AND 
MEASURES 

AS DESCRIBED IN THE LAWS OF 
ENGLAND FROM ANGLO-SAXON TIMES 



BY COLONEL SIR C. M. WATSON 

K.C.M.G., C.B., M.A. 

LATE ROYAL ENGINEBRS 



LONDON 
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 

1910 






i'-. 



Ai ' w. 



PREFACE 

These notes have been written to give a 
popular idea of the history of British Weights 
and Measures, as described in the Laws of 
England, since the time of the Anglo-Saxon 
kings, and to explain briefly the changes that 
have been made in them by successive gene- 
rations, with a view to their simplification 
and improvement. 

C. M. Watson. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

British Weights and Measures as described in the Laws 
of England. Languages in which the Laws were 
Written. The Troy Pound used as a Standard of 
Comparison. The Wheat Grain and the Barley 
Grain as Weights. Both still used in Egypt 



CHAPTER H 

THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

Law of King Edgar respecting Weights and Measures. 
Anglo-Saxon Weights. The Money Pound. The 
Merchants' Pound. Anglo-Saxon Money. Measures 
of Capacity. King Athelstane's Law of the King's 
Peace. Anglo-Saxon Measures of Length. The 
Law of the Ordeal. The Elne or Cubit. The 
Palm. The Acre. The Yard of Land. Laws of 
King Ethelred and King Canute. Summary of 
Anglo-Saxon Weights and Measures 



CONTENTS 
CHAPTER III 

KING WILLIAM I. TO KING EDWARD I. 



PAG] 



Law of William the Conqueror as to Weights and 
Measures. No Change made in the British System. 
Domesday Book. Magna Carta. Laws of King 
Henry III. respecting Weights and Measures. 
The Ulna. Measures of Capacity based on 
Measures of Weight. The Width of Cloths in the 
Thirteenth Century. Important Laws of Uncertain 
Date. The Assize of Weights and Measures. The 
Lesser Pound. The Greater Pound. The Money 
Pound. The Gallon and the Bushel. The Wine 
Gallon of King Edward I. Wool Weights. The 
Meaning of Troy Weight and of Avoirdupois 
Weight. The Auncel. The Assize of Bread and 
Ale. The Statute for Measuring Land. The Acre. 
The Iron Standard Yard of King Edward I. Length 
of the Foot fixed. The Statute concerning Bakers, 
etc. Laws for the Inspection and Verification of 
Weights and Measures. The Statute of Wales . 19 



CHAPTER IV 

KING EDWARD IL TO KING RICHARD IIL 

The word "Avoirdupois" first used in the Statute of 
Stamford. Rules for the Measuring of Cloths. The 
word "Aune" used for Yard. The Ell. The 
French Ell. The Use of the Auncel strictly 
Forbidden. The Stone of 14 Pounds. Three 
different Pounds used for Avoirdupois Goods. 
Deceits practised by the Merchants. The word 
"Verge" used for Yard. Wool Weight. Corn 



CONTENTS xi 



Measure. Price fixed for Silver-Gilt Articles. 
The Troy Pound first referred to by Name in A.D. 
14 14. The Tower Pound. Depreciation of the 
Weight of the Silver Penny. Regulations for 
Measuring Cloth. The different words used for 
"Yard" in the Laws . . . . .43 



CHAPTER V 

KING HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

New Standard Weights and Measures issued in 1492. 
The Royal Commission of 1496. Definition of the 
Troy Pound. The Avoirdupois Pound of 16 Troy 
Ounces. The New Standard Corn or Winchester 
Gallon. The Winchester Bushel. The Standard 
Yard of King Henry VII. The Old Standard 
Measures "damned and broken." The Tower 
Pound abolished by King Henry VIII. Butcher's 
Meat to be sold by Avoirdupois Weight. Com- 
mittee appointed in 1574 to inquire into Weights 
and Measures. List of New Standard Weights 
prepared by them. Second Committee appointed in 
1582. New Standards prepared of the Troy Pound, 
the Avoirdupois Pound, the Corn Gallon and Bushel, 
the Ale Gallon, and the Yard. These were the 
British Standards until 1824 . . . .59 



CHAPTER VI 

KING JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

Hopton's Concordancy of Dates. His Tables of 
Weights and Measures in 1610. Description of the 



xii CONTENTS 

PAQB 

Troy and Avoirdupois Pounds. Hopton's Table of 
Measures of Length. The Cubit. Measurement of 
Brickwork. Gunter's Chain, Its Use for Land 
Measurement. The Standard Wine Gallon of 1707. 
The Standard Coal Bushel of 1713. New Standard 
Yard and Pound constructed by Parliamentary Com- 
mittee of 1758. Comparison of the Troy and Avoir- 
dupois Pounds. The Weights and Measures Act of 
1824. The Avoirdupois Pound fixed as 7000 Grains. 
The Imperial Gallon. The Standard Yard and 
Pound destroyed in 1834. New Standards con- 
structed. The Avoirdupois Pound made the 
Standard Imperial Pound. The Weights and 
Measures Act of 1878. The Troy Pound no longer 
a Legal Weight. Tables of British Weights and 

73 



CHAPTER VII 

CONCLUSION 

Recapitulation of the Changes made in British Weights 
and Measures since Anglo-Saxon Times. There is 
now only one Pound, one Gallon, and one Bushel. 
Impossibility of altering the British Standards. 
Suggestions as to Improvements. No Change, 
however small, should be made hastily . • 

Index ....... 



BRITISH WEIGHTS AND 
MEASURES 

CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

British Weights and Measures as described in the Laws of 
England. Languages in which the Laws were Written. 
The Troy Pound used as a Standard of Comparison. The 
Wheat Grain and the Barley Grain as Weights. Both still 
used in Egypt. 

Those persons who are so anxious to do 
away with the British system of weights 
and measures, and to compel the inhabitants 
of the United Kingdom to adopt the French 
or Metric system, are in the habit, in their 
speeches and writings, of describing the British 
system as complicated and inconvenient, and 
as if it had grown up in a haphazard and 
ill-considered manner. But they show by 
their statements that they do not know what 
the British system is, as laid down by Act 

A 



2 INTRODUCTION 

of Parliament, and that they are ignorant 
of its history ; for, so far from being based 
on an uncertain foundation, British weights 
and measures have altered but little during 
the past thousand years, they have proved 
admirably adapted to the requirements of the 
people, and such changes as have been made 
have all been in the direction of simplification 
and of improvement. 

Although the history of the subject has 
been treated in various scientific works, and 
in official publications, such as the reports of 
parliamentary committees, and the annual 
reports of the Standards Department of the 
Board of Trade ; yet, as these books are not 
accessible to every one, it may be useful to 
give a resume of this history, for the informa- 
tion of those who would wish to know how 
our system of weights and measures has 
been built up, and why it is not desirable that 
it should be abandoned in favour of the brand- 
new and somewhat hastily devised system 
adopted in France in 1792, at the time of the 
great Revolution. 

Perhaps the most convenient method of 
dealing with the question is to follow the 



THE LAWS OF ENGLAND 3 

laws of England, dealing with weights and 
measures, which have been enacted since the 
time of the Anglo-Saxon kings. This appears 
to be sufficiently far to go back, although our 
weights and measures have a much longer 
history, as they are the modern representatives 
of the ancient measures of the East, and of 
the Roman Empire. It is also unnecessary to 
consider the interesting but difficult question 
as to when the prototypes of the British units 
were first introduced into this country, whether 
by the Phoenicians, the Romans, or the 
Scandinavians. 

It is sufficient to say that it is probable that 
the Saxons, when they arrived in England in 
the fifth century, adopted the weights and 
measures already in use, just as the Normans 
did, six centuries later. It must be remem- 
bered that the greater portion of the inhab- 
itants of Britain remained the same as before 
the arrival of the Saxons, although the latter 
formed the ruling class. 

Fortunately the laws of England have been 
preserved since the reign of Ethelred, King 
of Kent (a.d. 560-616), and of them several 
editions have been published. Of these, prob- 



4 INTRODUCTION 

ably the most complete is that compiled by 
the Commissioners of Public Records, and it 
is this one which has been used in preparing 
this short history. 

It is necessary to state briefly the lan- 
guages in which the laws were originally 
written, because, in the originals, the same 
word is in different places used to express 
different measures, while the same measure 
is sometimes represented by different words. 
This is occasionally overlooked by translators, 
and an incorrect idea of the meaning is thus 
given. 

The laws of the kings who reigned from 
A.D. 560 to A.D. 1042 are written in Anglo- 
Saxon, and, as this language is not very 
generally known, the extracts which I have 
given are taken from the English translation 
made by the Public Record Commissioners. 
The latter also published a Latin version, 
believed to have been made in the twelfth 
century, which throws considerable light on 
the Anglo-Saxon original. 

The laws of the kings who reigned from 
A.D. 1042 to A.D. 1272, King Edward the 
Confessor to King Henry III., are in Latin. 



LANGUAGE OF THE LAWS 5 

Some laws of William the Conqueror are also 
in Norman French, but probably the Latin 
was the official version. Acts of Parliament 
commence in the reign of Henry IIL 

The laws of Kings Edward I. and Edward 
II. are sometimes in Latin and I' sometimes 
in French, but more usually in the former 
language. 

The laws of the kings from a.d. 1327 to 
A.D. 146 1, King Edward III. to King Henry 
VI., are mostly in French. The English 
language was first used for parliamentary 
proceedings in 1392, but not for Acts of 
Parliament until later. 

The laws of the kings from a.d. 1461 to 
A.D. 1488, the fourth year of Henry VII., are 
in French. After 1488, the laws of King 
Henry VII., and of all succeeding sovereigns, 
are in English. 

There is another preliminary matter which 
must be referred to. As will be seen later, 
there were a number of different kinds of 
pounds used in England, and it is necessary to 
have a fixed standard by which to compare 
them with one another. For this I have taken 
the pound, afterwards called the troy pound, 

A 2 



6 INTRODUCTION 

composed of 12 troy ounces, or of 5760 troy 
grains. This pound is no longer a British 
legal weight, having been abolished by the 
Weights and Measures Act of 1878, and it 
existed long before the name '*Troy" was 
given to it, as it is derived from the Roman 
pound. But as it has been called troy pound 
for centuries, it is allowable to use the term as 
a mode of speech. 

The expression troy grain is also not quite 
accurate, as this weight ought to be called 
"barley grain." The use of grains of corn as 
a means of expressing small weights is very 
ancient, and is still in use in some countries. 
There were two corn grains used, the wheat 
grain and the barley grain, which bore to one 
another the proportion of three to four. For 
example, in Egypt, the rotl (pound) is divided 
as follows : — 

I rotl = 12 oukiyeh (ounces). 

I oukiyeh = 12 dirhem (drams). 

r dirhem = 16 kirat (carats). 

I kirat = 3 hebbeh (barley grains). 

I kirat = 4 kambeh (wheat grains). 

The Egyptian dirhem is a very ancient 
weight, and is believed not to have altered in 



BARLEY AND WHEAT GRAINS 7 

the course of many centuries ; it is equal to 
48 barley grains, and the half dirhem, a coin 
used by the Sultans of Egypt, weighed 24 
barley grains. As the British pennyweight 
was also 24 barley grains, it is not unreason- 
able to suppose that there is some connection 
between the weights of England and of 
Egypt. 

But in former times the English pound 
was not divided into barley grains, but into 
wheat grains, of which 7680 went to the troy 
pound. The wheat grain has long ceased to 
be used as a weight in this country, except by 
dealers in precious stones, who buy and sell 
diamonds by the carat of four grains. This is 
not a legal weight, and there is no authorised 
standard for it, but, as used in the trade, the 
carat is equal to 3*17 imperial grains. 



CHAPTER II 

THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

Law of King Edgar respecting Weights and Measures. Anglo- 
Saxon Weights. The Money Pound. The Merchants' 
Pound. Anglo-Saxon Money. Measures of Capacity. 
King Athelstane's Law of the King's Peace. Anglo- 
Saxon Measures of Length. The Law of the Ordeal. 
The Elne or Cubit. The Palm. The Acre. The 
Yard of Land. Laws of King Ethelred and King Canute. 
Summary of Anglo-Saxon Weights and Measures. 

The first important ordinance insisting on 
uniformity of weights and measures in 
England was enacted in the reign of King 
Edgar, a.d. 958-975. It ran as follows : — 

** And let one money pass through the 
King's dominions, and that let no man refuse ; 
and let one measure and one weight pass, such 
as is observed at London and Winchester ; 
and let the Wey of wool go for cxx pence, 
and let no man sell it cheaper ; and if any one 
sell it cheaper, either publicly or privately, let 
each pay xl shillings to the King." 



THE ANGLO-SAXON POUND 9 

It is necessary to consider what were the 
weights and measures referred to in this Law, 
and the matter is not without difficulty. The 
word ''money" undoubtedly means the pound 
of silver, which was divided into 240 pennies, 
just as the pound of account is at the present 
day. And as Anglo-Saxon pennies, which 
have been found, weigh 22^ troy grains, it 
would seem probable that the money pound 
of silver weighed 5400 troy grains, as it 
certainly did later in the time of the Norman 
kings. But it does not necessarily follow 
from this that the pound used by the 
merchants for buying and selling was also 
5400 grains, and it may have been the original 
pound of 5760 grains, or even a larger one. 
In after years the merchants' pound was always 
larger than the money pound, and the same 
may have been the case in Anglo-Saxon 
times. 

Various explanations have been given as to 
why the two pounds should have been different, 
and the following appears to be a possible 
solution. When a merchant took a pound of 
silver to the king's mint to be coined into 
pennies, if his pound weighed 5760 grains, 



10 THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

he should have received back 240 silver 
pennies, each weighing 24 grains, provided 
no charge was made for coining ; but, if he 
was given 240 pennies, each weighing 2 2|- 
grains only, it would mean that the mint 
authorities had kept back three-quarters of 
an ounce of silver to pay for the coining. 
As we shall see later, the weight of the 
coined silver penny tended to diminish, while 
the weight of the merchants' pound tended to 
increase ; and, in the time of Edward I., while 
the money pound was 1 1^ troy ounces, the 
merchants' pound had become 15 ounces. 

In the Anglo-Saxon money system the silver 
penny appears to have been the only actual 
coin ; but in money of account, there was, 
between the pound and the penny, an inter- 
mediate unit of account equal to four pence 
in some parts of England, and to five pence 
in other parts, which was called a '^scilling." 
The scilling remained as a unit of money of 
account until the Norman Conquest, when its 
place was taken by the shilling, equal to twelve 
pence. The shilling appears to have been in- 
troduced by the Emperor Charlemagne, who 
in the ninth century adopted a pound, which. 



CHARLEMAGNE'S POUND 11 

like the British, was based on the Roman 
pound. This pound was divided as follows 
for money, and was called "livre." 

I livre = 20 sous (shillings). 
I sou = 12 deniers (pennies). 

I denier = 24 graines (grains). 

For buying and selling, Charlemagne's 
pound was divided into 12 ounces, and 
exactly the same tendency to increase on the 
part of the merchants' pound showed itself in 
France as in England, as, in process of time, 
the French pound weighed 16 ounces in Paris 
and 1 5 ounces in other parts of the country. 

Another division of the Anglo-Saxon money 
pound is mentioned in a law of King Ethelred 
II., in which it is stated that the pound was 
counted as equal to 1 5 ore in the Danish parts 
of England. The word "ore" is still used as 
the name of a small coin in Denmark, Norway, 
and Sweden. 

There is nothing in the Anglo-Saxon laws 
to explain what is meant by the *' Wey of 
wool," but, in an ordinance of Edward I., it is 
given as being equal to 175 pounds, each of 
15 ounces. 

The only Anglo-Saxon measure of capacity 



12 THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

referred to in the laws is the '* Amber," 
which is given as a measure for butter and 
Welsh ale in a law of Ina, King of Wessex, 
and for meal in a law of King Athelstane. 
The content of the amber is described, in a 
document of the reign of King Edward I., as 
being equal to half a London quarter, and as 
containing four London bushels ; it is there- 
fore not unreasonable to assume that the 
quarter and bushel were used as measures of 
capacity by the Anglo-Saxons. 

A number of the Anglo-Saxon measures of 
length are given in a law of King Athelstane 
(a.d. 925-940), which defines the extent of the 
king's grith, meaning the king's peace, or 
distance from his dwelling, within which 
peace was always to be maintained : 

**Thus far shall be the King's grith from 
his burh gate where he is dwelling, on its 
four sides ; that is iii miles, and iii furlongs, 
and iii acres' breadths, and ix feet, and ix 
palms, and ix barley corns." 

The same regulation is repeated in the laws 
of Henry L, except that the number of acres' 
breadths is given as 9 instead of 3. 

Of these measures of length there can be no 



MEASURES OF LENGTH 13 

doubt that the mile, and the furlong, or acre's 
length, are the same as are in use in the 
United Kingdom at the present day, as there 
is no point in a continuous history where any 
alteration is mentioned. The acre's breadth 
is the same measure that is now called the 
chain, and from later laws it would appear 
that it always consisted of four perches. 

It is doubtful what was the length of the 
foot in Anglo-Saxon times, and it is probable 
that feet differing in length were in use, 
varying from the Roman foot of 11*65 inches, 
up to a foot of 1 3 inches. The present British 
foot of 1 2 inches does not appear to have been 
definitely fixed until the reign of Edward I., 
when it was ordained that, in future, the foot 
was to be exactly one-third of the yard. 

It will be observed that neither the yard nor 
the cubit are included in King Athelstane's 
list of measures, but there can be little doubt 
that the latter was used by the Anglo-Saxons, 
and it appears to be referred to in the laws of 
King Athelstane, which deal with the trial by 
ordeal, by which criminals were allowed to 
prove their innocence if they could. 

The ordeal was of three kinds, the trial by 



14 THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

hot iron, the trial by hot water, and the trial 
by cold water. In the ordeal by hot iron, a 
piece of iron weighing i lb. was made red 
hot, which the person under examination had 
to carry for a certain distance in his naked 
hand. His hand was then bound up for a 
fixed time, and if when the bandage was 
removed he had suffered no ill effect, he was 
pronounced innocent. 

In the ordeal by hot water, the criminal had 
to plunge his hand up to the elbow in a vessel 
full of boiling water, and take out a stone ; his 
hand was then bound up and examined as in 
the previous ordeal. 

In the ordeal by cold water, the man was 
lowered into water by a rope, until the water 
was an **elne and a half" over him, apparently 
over his head. If he was drowned he was 
judged guilty, and innocent if he survived. In 
the Latin version of this law the words used 
are U7ia ulna et dunidia. 

The word **ulna," of which **elne" is the 
Saxon equivalent, denotes the length of the 
forearm of a man from the elbow to the end 
of the middle finger; it is about i8 inches in 
length, a little more or a little less. The 



THE CUBIT 15 

average cubit, used by Eastern nations, was 
about 177 inches, and that used in England 
was 18 inches; it was not, however, until the 
end of the thirteenth century that the length 
of the inch was definitely fixed as the tf of 
the cubit. 

The palm, mentioned in Athelstane's law, 
and sometimes called the ** hand-breadth," is 
the sixth part of a cubit ; in England it was 
divided into 3 thumb-breadths or inches. It 
is necessary to distinguish the ** palm " from 
the *'hand," the latter, which is used for 
measuring horses, being 4 inches in length. 
In the East the palm was counted as 4 finger- 
breadths. 

The ''barley-corn" appears to have been 
the smallest measure of length used by the 
Anglo-Saxons, and was probably the same as 
that described in the laws of Edward I., of 
jivhich three, placed end to end, were equal to 
one inch. In the East, on the contrary, it was 
the breadth of the barley-corn that was used 
as a measure ; 6 barley-corns placed side by 
side made i finger-breadth. 

The "acre," the Anglo-Saxon unit of land 
measurement, was the area of a rectangular 



16 THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

piece of land i furlong or acre's length in 
length, and iV of a furlong, or an acre's 
breadth, in width. The area of the acre has 
apparently not altered since the time of the 
Anglo-Saxons. 

Although the word **yard" was not used 
as a measure of length by the Anglo-Saxons, 
the term was employed as a land measure. 
In a law of Ina, King of Wessex (a.d. 688- 
728) the following clause occurs : — 

*' If a man agree for a yard of land {5ypSe 
CarjSeji) or more, at a fixed rent, and plough it ; 
if the lord desire to raise the land to him to 
service and to rent, he will not take it upon 
him, if the lord do not give him a dwelling ; 
and let him lose the crop." 

From statements in Domesday Book it 
would appear the area of a yard of land was 
equal to 30 acres, or one-fourth of an average 
hide. 

The law of King Edgar with regard to 
uniformity of weights and measures was re- 
enacted by succeeding kings. For example, 
in the laws of King Ethelred II., who reigned 
A.D. 979-1014, the following clauses occur : — 

" And let fraudulent deeds and hateful 



THE BRITISH POUND 17 

illegalities be earnestly shunned ; that is, false 
weights and wrongful measures, and lying 
witnesses, and shameful fightings. 

" And let weights and measures be care- 
fully rectified, and every illegality be thence- 
forth avoided." 

The latter law was repeated by King Canute, 
after his accession to the throne of England, 
in almost the same words : — 

**And let weights and measures be care- 
fully rectified, and every species of injustice 
be henceforth abstained from." 

Before leaving the Anglo-Saxons, it will be 
advisable to summarise the system of British 
weights and measures as it existed before the 
Norman Conquest. 

The pound, the standard of weight, was 
probably the original pound of 12 ounces, 
derived from the Roman pound, and after- 
wards called the troy pound. But the money 
pound was smaller, and seems to have con- 
sisted, as in Norman times, of ii|- troy ounces, 
or 5400 troy grains. This pound was divided 
into 240 silver pennies, each weighing 22 J 
troy grains. On the other hand, the mer- 

B 



18 THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS 

chants' pound, used for buying and selling 
heavy goods, was possibly larger. 

The standards of capacity, i.e. the bushel 
and the gallon, were probably the same as 
were in use afterwards, but there is little 
information on the subject in the Anglo-Saxon 
laws. 

The measures of length — the mile, the 
furlong, and the acre's breadth, afterwards 
called the chain — were the same as at present. 

The acre, the unit of land measure, was also 
the same in Anglo-Saxon times as at the 
present day. 



CHAPTER III 

KING WILLIAM I. TO KING EDWARD I. 

Law of William the Conqueror as to Weights and Measures. 
No Change made in the British System. Domesday Book. 
Magna Carta. Laws of King Henry III. respecting 
Weights and Measures, The Ulna, Measures of 
Capacity based on Measures of Weight. The Width of 
Cloths in the Thirteenth Century. Important Laws of 
Uncertain Date. The Assize of Weights and Measures, 
The Lesser Pound. The Greater Pound. The Money 
Pound. The Gallon and the Bushel. The Wine Gallon 
of King Edward I. Wool Weights. The Meaning of 
Troy Weight and of Avoirdupois Weight. The Auncel. 
The Assize of Bread and Ale. The Statute for Measuring 
Land. The Acre. The Iron Standard Yard of King 
Edward I. Length of the Foot Fixed. The Statute con- 
cerning Bakers, etc. Laws for the Inspection and Verifica- 
tion of Weights and Measures. The Statute of Wales. 

In a.d. 1066 William the Norman successfully 
invaded England, but before proclaiming 
himself as king he took the precaution of 
going through the form of election by the 
people, and he always desired to be regarded, 

19 



20 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

not as a usurper, but as the lawful successor 
of King Edward the Confessor. 

Just as the Saxons made no change in the 
British system of weights and measures on 
their arrival in England, so the Norman kings 
did not attempt to alter them, and one of the 
early laws of William the Conqueror ran as 
follows : — 

^^ De mensuris et ponderibusy 

" Et quod habeant per universum regnum 
mensuras fidelissimas, et signatas, et pondera 
fidelissima et signata, sicut boni predecessores 
statuerint." 

" And that they shall have throughout the 
whole kingdom most accurately adjusted and 
properly certified measures, and most accurately 
adjusted and properly certified weights, as our 
good predecessors have ordained." 

In fact, the only alteration that seems to 
have been made was the substitution of the 
Norman or French shilling for the Saxon 
scilling (see p. lo), and even this change was 
effected slowly, as the scilling is frequently 
referred to in the laws of the Norman kings in 
a manner that shows it was still regarded as a 
legal monetary unit. 



DOMESDAY BOOK 21 

It is remarkable how little alteration was 
made in the laws of England by the Normans ; 
the laws of Henry I., for example, which are 
very lengthy, are practically a simple repetition 
of the law of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Of 
course, after the suppression of the unsuccess- 
ful insurrection against William the Conqueror, 
a large number of the Saxon landowners were 
deprived of their property and replaced by his 
Norman followers, but the bulk of the people 
were but little interfered with. 

The commissioners, who were charged with 
the duty of collecting the information for 
Domesday Book, which was a valuation of 
land for purposes of taxation, were specially 
directed to record the values, not only at the 
time of their inquiry, but also what they were 
in the reign of King Edward the Confessor. 
This shows that it was simply a revision of 
valuation, and there is not the smallest 
indication in Domesday Book that there was 
any intention to interfere with existing 
measures. There was no break in the history 
of British weights and measures at the time 
of the Norman Conquest. 

There is no information on the subject of 

B 2 



22 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

weights and measures in the laws of the kings 
from Stephen to Richard L, but in the Magna 
Carta, signed by King John in a.d. 12 15, there 
is an important clause, confirming the uniform- 
ity of weights and measures, which introduces 
some new and interesting points : — 

** Ut mensura vini, bladi, et latitudines 
pannorum, et rerum aliarum emendetur, et ita 
de ponderibus." 

" That the measure of wine and of corn, and 
the widths of cloths, and the measures of all 
other things, be made correct, and so also of 
weights." 

The same clause was repeated and extended 
in the Great Charter of King Henry III., 
signed on his accession in a.d. 12 16: — 

** Una mensura vini fiat per totum regnum 
nostrum, et una mensura cervisie, et una 
mensura bladi, scilicet quarterium Londinium ; 
et una latitudo pannorum tinctorum, rus- 
setorum, et haubergettorum, scilicet due ulne 
infra listas. De ponderibus sit ut de 



mensuns." 



" Let one measure of wine be used through- 
out the whole of our Kingdom, and one measure 
of ale, and one measure of corn, that is to say, 
the London quarter ; and one width of coloured 
and russet cloths, and of cloths for hauberks, 



THE POUND AND THE PINT 23 

that is to say, two * ulne ' between the lists. And 
let the law be for weights as for measures." 

It is clear from this that the London quarter, 
which, as I have already shown, was probably 
used in Anglo-Saxon times, was to be the 
standard measure of capacity for corn ; but it 
is not quite clear whether the quarter was also 
to be used for wine and ale, or whether, as in 
after times, there were different measures of 
capacity for the two latter. 

There can be little doubt that the original 
idea of measure of capacity was based on 
weight, and that a pint measure was a vessel 
which held a pound weight of any article, and 
a gallon held 8 pounds. But, as the specific 
gravity of articles differ, so also the measures 
of capacity for them would also differ ; for 
example, a gallon which held 8 pounds of wine 
would contain less than 8 pounds of wheat. 
As will be seen later, an attempt was made to 
get over this difficulty in the time of Edward 
I., but not successfully ; and the principle of 
having the same gallon for corn, wine, and ale 
was not definitely accepted until the passing 
of the Weights and Measures Act of a.d. 
1824. 



24 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

There is also some doubt as to the meaning 
of the word used for the measure of cloth in 
the above-quoted Charter. If the term ** ulna " 
means ''yard," then the cloth made at that 
time must have been 72 inches between the 
lists, and this seems rather an improbable 
width. In succeeding laws regarding cloths, 
while three-quarters of a yard, or 54 inches, 
was a usual width for broadcloths, other cloths 
are described as being one yard, or three- 
quarters of a yard wide. It would therefore 
seem more likely that the word **ulna " in this 
Charter meant the single cubit of 18 inches, 
rather than the double cubit or yard of 36 
inches ; but, to settle the point definitely, it 
would be necessary to ascertain what was the 
width of a cloth loom in the time of 
Henry III. 

We have now to consider some very import- 
ant ordinances respecting weights and measures, 
the exact date of which is not known. They 
are attributed by some writers to the reign of 
Henry III., and by others to that of his 
successor, Edward I. The Public Record 
Commissioners decline to give a definite 
opinion, and describe them as of uncertain 



ROYAL REGULATIONS 25 

date, but before the reign of King Edward 
IIL But, however, as one of them, *'The 
Assize of Bread and Ale," is referred to in 
The Statute of Wales, enacted by Edward L 
in A.D. 1284, and another, "The Assize of 
Weights and Measures," is mentioned in the 
Year Book of the twentieth year of the same 
king, it is reasonable to believe that they were 
composed not later than his reign. I shall 
therefore speak of them as being of the time 
of King Edward L, leaving it an open question 
whether they ought not to be attributed to his 
predecessor. 

These ordinances appear to be royal regula- 
tions, or what would now be called " Orders 
in Council," rather than Acts of Parliament. 
As the relative dates of issue are not known, 
I will describe them in the order most con- 
venient for considering them. They are written 
in Latin, and are of some length, so only the 
important parts will be quoted in full. These 
ordinances are named as follows : — 

1. **The Assize of Weights and 

Measures." 

2, ** The Assize of Bread and 

Ale." 



26 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

3. **The Statute for Measuring 

Land, etc." 

4. *'The Statute concerning Bakers, 

etc." 

I. The Assize of Weights and Measures. 
This ordinance commences as follows : — 

** Per ordinacionem totius Anglici regni, fuit 
mensura domini Regis composita, videlicet ; 
quod denarius Anglicanus, qui vocatur ster- 
lyngus, rotundus et sine tonsura, ponderabit 
xxxii grana frumenti in medio spice. Et 
uncia debet ponderatur viginti denarios. Et 
duodecim uncie faciunt libram Londiniam, 
videlicet, xx solidos sterlyngas." 

*' By the Law of the whole Kingdom of 
England the measure of our Lord the King 
was composed in the following way ; that is 
to say that the English penny, which is called 
a sterlyng, round and uncut, ought to weigh 
32 grains of wheat taken from the middle of 
the ear. And the ounce ought to weigh 20 
pennies. And 12 ounces make the London 
pound, that is to say, 20 shillings sterlyng." 

There has been much discussion as to what 
is the pound here described. At that time the 
silver penny, as actually coined at the mint, 
weighed 30 wheat grains (2 2 J troy grains), 



THE BRITISH POUND 27 

and 240 of these made a pound of 5400 troy 
grains. Some persons consider that it is this 
moneypound which is described in the ordinance, 
but the wording will hardly bear that mean- 
ing. To me it appears to be an authoritative 
declaration of what the true British pound was, 
irrespective of the weight which the royal mint 
might give to the silver pennies coined there. 
It is the measure, i.e. the standard of weight, 
of the king that is being described, and it is 
laid down that a penny ought to weigh 32 
wheat grains, no matter what any particular 
coin did weigh ; just as at the present day, the' 
twentieth part of a troy ounce is called a penny- 
weight, though no one thinks of it as the weight 
of a bronze penny. 

A later clause in the ordinance gives the 
same meaning, and, although out of its proper 
place, I will quote it now, as it bears directly 
on the subject of the pound : — 

" Et sciendum quod que libra de denarios 
et specibus, et confeccionibus, utpote in elect- 
uario, constat ex xx solidos ; libra vero omnium 
aliarum rerum ex xxv solidos. Uncia vero 
constat ex xxd, et libra continet xii uncias. 
In aliis veris rebus libra continet xv uncias. 



28 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

Uncia vero hinc inde est in pondere xx 
denarios." 

** And it is to be known that the pound of 
pennies, and of spices, and of apothecaries' 
goods, consists of 20 shillings ; but the pound 
of all other things consists of 25 shillings. And 
the ounce consists of 20 pennies, and the pound 
contains 12 ounces. In the case of all other 
things the pound contains 15 ounces; in this 
case also the ounce is 20 pennies in weight." 

In this paragraph there can, I think, be no 
doubt that it is weights, not coins, which are 
being discussed. At that time there was no 
coin of the value of a pound nor of a shilling ; 
but there were pound weights, ounce weights, 
shilling weights, and penny weights, while there 
was only one coin, the silver penny. 

There would appear, therefore, to have been 
three recognised pounds at the date of the 
ordinance; first, the old British pound of 12 
ounces, used for buying and selling gold and 
silver bullion, spices and drugs ; second, the 
pound of 1 5 ounces, used for buying and sell- 
ing all other things; third, the pound of ii|- 
ounces, for coined silver. The divisions of 
these three pounds were : — 



THE THREE POUNDS 



29 



( I ) The lesser pound for Gold, Silver, 
Spices, and Drugs. 



or 



I pound 

I shilling 

I pennyweight 

I pound 
I ounce 
I pennyweight 



20 shillings. 

12 pennyweights. 

32 wheat grains. 

12 ounces. 

20 pennyweights. 

32 wheat grains. 



(2) The greater pound for all other things. 



or 



I pound 

I shilling 

I pennyweight 

I pound 
I ounce 
I pennyweight 



25 shillings. 

12 pennyweights. 

32 wheat grains. 

15 ounces. 

20 pennyweights. 

32 wheat grains. 



(3) The pound for coined silver, 

I pound = 240 silver pennies (coins). 
I penny = 30 wheat grains. 

I will now return to an earlier part of the 
ordinance, in which the measures of capacity 
are described in the following words : — 

** Et viii libre faciunt galonem vini, et 
octo galones vini faciunt busellum Londinium ; 



30 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

et octo buselli faciunt quarterium Londlnium ; 
et duodecim libre et dimidium faciunt petram 
Londiniam." 

"And eight pounds make a gallon of wine, 
and eight gallons make a London bushel ; and 
eight bushels make a London quarter ; and 
12^ pounds make a London stone." 

This is not very easy to understand. Wine 
is usually sold by the gallon, and corn by the 
bushel, but there is only one kind of gallon 
and bushel mentioned in the ordinance. But 
if a gallon contained 8 pounds of wine, the 
same measure would not contain 8 pounds of 
wheat, assuming that the same pound was 
used in both cases. If, however, wine was 
treated as one of ''the other things," and was 
weighed by the greater pound of 15 ounces, 
while wheat, as had always been the custom, 
was weighed by the lesser pound of 1 2 ounces, 
then a gallon which held 8 pounds of wine 
would contain about 8 pounds of wheat, if 
the latter was sold by ''heaped measure." 

It rather looks, therefore, as if an attempt 
was made by this ordinance to have only one 
standard gallon for wine, corn, etc. If this 
was so, the attempt did not succeed, and it 



THE GALLON 31 

appears to have led to a good deal of difficulty 
later, until the matter was put right in the 
reign of King Henry VIL 

Assuming that the above solution of the 
question is correct, it is easy to calculate 
approximately the content of the wine gallon 
of Edward L An imperial gallon has a 
capacity of 277*463 cubic inches, and contains 
10 imperial pounds of water. As wine has 
an average specific gravity of 0*99, 8 pounds 
of wine, each of 15 troy ounces, would be 
contained in a vessel of about 23o|- cubic 
inches capacity. The suggestion is confirmed 
by the fact that, when the wine gallon was 
standardised in the reign of Queen Anne, it 
was fixed as 231 cubic inches, as that was 
the customary wine gallon then in use, though 
its origin seems to have been forgotten (see 

p. 81). 

After describing the gallon and the bushel, 
the ordinance goes on to deal with the weight 
of wool, and states that the sack of wool ought 
to weigh 28 stone, each stone of 12^ pounds, 
but that in some parts of the country it is 
30 stone. It also gives the weight of a load 
of lead as 2100 pounds, each pound being 25 



32 WILLIAM L TO EDWARD L 

shillings ; lead, being one of *' the other things," 
was of course weighed by the greater pound, 
which is given indifferently as 25 shillings, or 
15 ounces. 

Another system of weighing lead is described 
in the following paragraph : — 

** Secundum vero quosdam alios la charre 
consistit ex xii Wayes, et hoc est secundum 
troni ponderacionem." 

** But, according to some others, the load 
consists of 12 Wayes, and this is according 
to troy weight." 

The expression *' troni ponderacionem " is 
translated *'troy weight" by the Public Record 
Commissioners, and, as it is the first time that 
the words occur in the laws, it is advisable to 
explain their meaning, and also that of the 
kindred expression ** avoirdupois weight." 

A study of the matter shows that the word 
*'troy" did not originally mean a particular 
kind of pound, nor did it refer to the nature 
of the article weighed, but to the manner of 
weighing. ** Troy " is probably derived from 
the old English word *' troi," signifying a 
balance (see Wright's English Dialect Die- 



TROY AND AVOIRDUPOIS 83 

tionary). Another form of the word was 
**tron," used in parts of England and in 
Scotland. ** Tron " was also used to express 
the market, or place of weighing, and still 
exists in Scotland in words such as the 
"Trongate"; the latter form of the word is 
that used in the ordinance under consideration. 
From time immemorial articles of value were 
weighed by the balance, and, in process of 
time, weighing by the balance came to be 
called ** troy weight." The nature of articles 
weighed by troy v/ere those of which the 
value was considerable relatively to the 
weight. 

The word *' avoirdupois," on the other hand, 
was not the name of a particular kind of 
pound, but was a generic word, used with 
respect to articles of which the weight was 
considerable relatively to the value, such as 
wool, iron, lead, etc. In ancient times in 
England, articles of avoirdupois were some- 
times weighed by a kind of steelyard, called 
the auncel. This consisted of a beam with 
a fixed weight at one end, while the article 
to be weighed was suspended from the other ; 
the fulcrum, or point of support, was moved 

c 



34 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

along the beam, and its position indicated the 
weight of the article. It was an unsatisfactory 
mode of weighing, and one that afforded 
opportunities for cheating ; so, as we shall see 
later, several laws were enacted, forbidding 
the use of the auncel, and ordering that all 
kinds of goods should be weighed by the 
balance. Having regard to the meaning of 
the words **troy" and ** avoirdupois," it is 
easy to understand that, when the balance was 
generally used, the lesser pound, used for 
valuable articles, was called a troy pound, 
while the greater pounds, used for bulky 
articles, were called avoirdupois pounds. Of 
these latter there were three, of which the first 
was the pound of 15 troy ounces, described in 
the Assize of Weights and Measures. 

2. The Assize of Bread and Ale, 

This ordinance fixes the price at which 
bread and ale were to be sold according as 
the price of corn varied. It commences by 
stating that when a quarter of wheat sold for 
12 pence, the farthing loaf of wastel bread 
was to weigh 6 pounds 16 shillings. It then 
gives the rate at which the size of the loaf 



PRICE OF BREAD AND ALE 35 

was to be reduced as the price of wheat rose, 
and finally says that, when wheat sold for 1 2 
shillings the quarter, the farthing loaf was to 
weigh 1 1 shillings and 4 pence. 

It is evident that the pounds, shillings, and 
pence used with reference to bread were weights, 
not coins. As I have already pointed out, there 
were no coins of the value of a pound or shilling 
in the time of Edward I., and, if the weighing 
had been done by coins, it would have taken 
1632 silver pennies to weigh the loaf weighing 
6 pounds 16 shillings. 

The price of ale and beer was fixed in the 
following way. When the quarter of wheat 
sold for 4 shillings, or 4 shillings and 3 pence, 
the quarter of barley for 20 pence or 2 shillings, 
and the quarter of oats for 16 pence, then 2 
gallons of ale or beer were to be sold for a 
penny in the cities, and three or four gallons 
for a penny out of the cities. These prices 
give a good idea of the high value of money 
in those days, and show that it is quite out of 
the question that silver pennies could have been 
used as weights. 



36 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

3. The Statute for Measuring Land, etc. 

Although this ordinance deals principally 
with the measurement of land, it gives in- 
formation of the greatest importance with 
reference to the standards of measures of 
length. A large part of it is devoted to a 
table, giving the lengths and breadths of a 
rectangular acre of different shapes, varying 
from one of 16 perches in length and 10 
perches in breadth, up to one of 80 perches 
in length and 2 perches in breadth. The area 
of the acre is, of course, always the same, i,e, 
160 square perches. 

Beside this table of land measure, the 
ordinance contains the following paragraphs, 
which may be regarded as the Royal Charter 
of British measures of length. 

*'Ordinatum est quod tria grana ordei, sicca 
et rotunda, faciunt pollicem ; duodecim pollices 
faciunt pedem ; tres pedes faciunt ulnam ; 
quinque ulne et dimidia faciunt perticam ; et 
quadraginta pertice in longitudine et quatuor 
in latitudine faciunt unam acram. 

** Et memorandum quod ulna domini Regis 
ferrea continet iii pedes et non plus ; et pes debet 
continet xii pollices per recta mensura hujus 



THE IRON YARD OF THE KING 37 

modi ulne metita, videlicet, tricesima sexta 
parta dicte ulne facit i pollice, nee plus nee 
minus ; et quinz ulne et dimidium faciunt i 
perticam, sexdeci pedes et dimidium, per pre- 
dicatam ulnam domini Regis ferream." 

''It is ordained that three grains of barley, 
dry and round, make an inch ; 1 2 inches make 
a foot ; 3 feet make an ' ulna ' ; 5|- ulne make 
a perch ; and 40 perches in length and 4 perches 
in breadth make an acre. 

** And it is to be remembered that the Iron 
Ulna of our Lord the King contains 3 feet and 
no more ; and the foot must contain 1 2 inches, 
measured by the correct measure of this kind 
of ulna ; that is to say, one thirty-sixth part 
of the said ulna makes one inch, neither more 
nor less. And sh ulne, or i6|- feet, make one 
perch, in accordance with the above-described 
Iron Ulna of our Lord the King." 

It would seem without doubt, that the object 
of this ordinance was to secure uniformity in 
British measures of length. Up to that time, 
while the length of the cubit was fixed, as it 
was dependent on the area of the acre, which 
never appears to have altered, the foot was a 
measure of uncertain length, varied in different 
parts of the country, and had not been made 
commensurable with the cubit. Now a new 

c 2 



38 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

ulna or cubit was created, called the royal 
ulna, exactly double the length of the old 
cubit, and the length of the foot was definitely 
fixed as one -third of this royal ulna, which 
was afterwards called the ** yard." 

It is sometimes stated that the iron standard 
yard of the king was made the length of the 
king's arm, but this is a childish suggestion. 
The word ** ulna "does not mean **arm," and 
its length depended upon the area of the 
British acre, which no king or parliament 
could have altered. 

There was only one flaw in the new system, 
namely, that it made the length of the perch 
5|- yards, or i6|- feet, inconvenient numbers; 
but this could not be avoided, as the acre's 
breadth of 22 yards, and the acre's length of 
220 yards, could not be changed. But this 
was of small importance, as compared with the 
great advantage of having only one standard 
measure of length for the whole kingdom, the 
iron yard of the king. 

Just as the ordinance definitely fixed the 
length of the foot, so also it fixed the length of 
the inch. The former was to be J of the royal 
ulna, and not more ; and the latter was to be 



STATUTE CONCERNING BAKERS, ETC. 39 

■gV part of the royal ulna, neither more nor less. 
These words show clearly that there had previ- 
ously been an uncertainty as to the lengths of 
the foot and inch. 

The division of the inch into barley-corns 
was probably not an innovation, but a state- 
ment of an old custom ; as a fact, 36 average 
barley-corns fixed end to end, make a foot 
almost exactly. 

It is much to be regretted that the iron 
standard yard of King Edward is no longer in 
existence, but the brass standard yard of King 
Henry VII., which is probably a pretty accurate 
copy of the former, is still kept in the Standards 
Office, and is practically the same as the British 
standard yard of the present day. 

4. The Statute concerning Bakers, etc. 

This ordinance enumerates the punishments 
to be awarded if the Assize of Bread and Ale 
was not strictly observed by bakers and others, 
and it also gives the regulations as regards 
keeping the standard measures, in different 
parts of the country, in the following words : — 

** Standardum buselli, galones, et ulne, sigillo 
domini Regis ferreo signantur, diligenter et 



40 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

salvo custodiantur, sub pena centum libras. 
Et nulla mensura fiat in villa, nisi mensura 
domini Regis concordat et signa comunitatis 
villa sit signata. Si quis emat vel vendat per 
mensuras non signatas, et per majorem et 
ballivos non examinatas, graviter amercietur. 
Et omnes mensure et ulne, majores vel minores, 
bis in anno videantur et diligenter examinantur. 
Standardum buselli, galones, et ulne, et signa, 
quibus signanda sunt, sint sub custodia majoris 
et ballivorum, et sex legaliter de villa juratorum, 
coram quibus mensure signentur." 

" The standards of the bushel, of the gallon, 
and of the *ulne' (plural), which have been 
sealed with the iron seal of our Lord the King, 
are to be kept diligently and safely, under a 
penalty of ^loo. And let no measure be made 
in a town, unless it agrees with the measure of 
our Lord the King, and is sealed with the seal 
of the corporation of the town. If any person 
buys or sells with measures that have not been 
sealed, or that have not been inspected by the 
mayor and the bailiffs, he will be severely 
punished. And all measures and * ulne,' greater 
or less, are to be inspected and carefully 
examined twice every year. The standards of 
the bushel, of the gallon, and of the * ulne,' and 
the seals with which they are sealed, are to be 
kept in the custody of the mayor and the 
bailiffs, and of six legally sworn citizens of the 
town, in whose presence all measures must be 
sealed." 



STANDARD MEASURES 41 

It is evident from the wording of this 
ordinance, that, after the original standard 
measures had been made in London, certified 
copies of these were sent to the different towns 
of England, in order that all the measures in 
actual use might be compared with them. 

The fact that only one kind of bushel and 
one kind of gallon are mentioned in this law 
tends to confirm the idea that the same 
measures were used for corn and wine ; but 
this is a point on which it is not possible to 
speak with certainty. The standard *'ulne" 
were probably marked with feet and inches, so 
as to comply with the regulations in the 
Assize of Weights and Measures, and to 
ensure that the correct foot should be used as 
well as the correct yard. 

Although the immediate duty of keeping 
the local standards, and examining the local 
measures, was placed on the mayor and bailiffs 
of each town, it was necessary to have a higher 
authority to see that these gentlemen did their 
duty in an efficient manner. The oldest law 
dealing with this superior inspection, which I 
have been able to find, is the Statute of Wales, 
enacted in the twelfth year of Edward I., a.d. 



42 WILLIAM I. TO EDWARD I. 

1284. The fourth section of this statute 
enumerates a number of matters which it was 
the duty of the sheriff of each county to 
inquire into, including the following: — 

** De Assiza Panis et Cervisie non observata, 
et eam infringentibus. De busellis, galonibus, 
et aliis mensuris injustis. De ulnis et ponderi- 
bus injustis, et per ea vendentibus." 

*' Respecting the non-observance of The 
Assize of Bread and Ale, and discovery of those 
that break the Law. Respecting illegal bushels, 
gallons, and other measures. Respecting illegal 
ulne and weights, and those who sell by them." 

It will be seen, therefore, that, at the end of 
the thirteenth century, British weights and 
measures had been carefully standardised, and 
great precautions had been taken to ensure 
uniformity in the use of them. 



CHAPTER IV 

KING EDWARD II. TO KING RICHARD III. 

The word " Avoirdupois " first used in the Statute of Stamford. 
Rules for the measuring of Cloths. The word "Aune" 
used for Yard. The Ell. The French Ell. The Use of 
the Auncel strictly Forbidden. The Stone of 14 Pounds. 
Three different Pounds used for Avoirdupois Goods. 
Deceits practised by the Merchants. The word " Verge " 
used for Yard. Wool Weight. Corn Measure. Price 
fixed for Silver-Gilt Articles. The Troy Pound first 
referred to by Name in a.d. 14 14. The Tower Pound. 
Depreciation of the Weight of the Silver Penny. 
Regulations for Measuring Cloth. The different words 
used for "Yard" in the Laws. 

A CONSIDERABLE number of Acts of Parliament 
dealing with weights and measures were passed 
during the period from a.d. 1307 to a.d. 1485 ; 
but, as there is a good deal of repetition in 
these, it will be necessary to refer only to the 
more important ones, and to those which 
made alterations in the system which had 
been so carefully established in the thirteenth 
century. 

48 



44 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD III. 

In the Statute of Stamford, enacted in the 
third year of King Edward II., which deals 
with the custom duties to be charged on goods 
brought into England, the following paragraph 
occurs : — 

** Et, quant a les custumes que le Roi prent 
par ses Ministres, cest asavoir de chacun tonel 
de vin, ii s. ; de chacun drap que merchaundz 
aliens font venir en sa terre, ii s. ; et de chacun 
livre de aver de poys, iiii d." 

**And, as regards the custom duties which 
the King takes by his servants, it is hereby 
made known that two shillings is to be taken 
for each tun of wine ; two shillings for each 
piece of cloth which foreign merchants import 
into his Kingdom ; and four pence for each 
pound of avoirdupois." 

This is the first time that the word ''avoir- 
dupois" occurs in the laws of England, and 
there would appear to be little doubt that the 
pound here referred to is the pound of 15 troy 
ounces described in The Assize of Weights 
and Measures (see page 28), and not the 
pound afterwards commonly called the avoir- 
dupois pound. The latter weight cannot be 
definitely traced before the time of Queen 



CLOTH MEASURE 45 

Elizabeth, and was not an authorised weight 
in A.D. 1309. 

In the second year of King Edward III., 
A.D. 1328, an Act was passed entitled the 
Statute of Northampton, the fourteenth section 
of which deals with the rules for the measure- 
ment of cloth in these words : — 

" Ensement est accorde et establi par notre 
Seigneur le Roi et son conseil, que de la Seint 
Michel proschein avenir en avant, touz les 
draps es lieux ou ils seront mis a terre soient 
aunez par le auneour le Roi, en presence des 
meires et baillifs, ou meire y est, ou des baillifs, 
ou meire nyest, de meisme les lieux ; cest 
assavoir la longure de chacun drap de Reye, 
par une corde de sept aunes quatre foitz 
mesure par le list, et la laoure de chacun drap 
de Reye, six quarters de lee, mesure par laune ; 
et de draps de colour la longure soit mesure 
par le dos, par une corde de sis aunes et demi 
quatre foitz mesure, et la laoure sis quarts et 
demi, mesure par laune sans defoler les draps." 

** It is also agreed and ordained by our Lord 
the King and his council that, commencing 
next Michaelmas Day, and thenceforward in 
future, all cloths shall be measured by the 
King's measurer at the places where they are 
brought, in the presence of the mayor and 
bailiffs, if there is a mayor, or of the bailiffs 



46 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD HI. 

of the same places, if there is no mayor ; and 
it is made known that the length of each cloth 
of Reye is to be measured by a cord of seven 
yards, four times measured by the list, and 
the breadth of each cloth of Reye six quarters 
of a yard measure ; and the length of each 
coloured cloth is to be measured by the fold 
by a cord of six yards and a half, four times 
measured, and the breadth six quarters of a 
yard and a half quarter, measured by the yard 
without unfolding the cloth." 

In this law the word *' aune " evidently means 
the British yard of ;^6 inches, as standardised 
by Edward I. '* Aune," or, as it is sometimes 
written ''aulne" or "alne," is derived from the 
Latin word **ulna," which, as has already been 
explained, signified a ** cubit," and was used 
to express the royal yard in the statutes of 
Edward I. Some writers translate the word 
**aune" by **ell," but this is evidently incorrect. 
There was, it is true, an English measure called 
an ell ; but this was equal to 5 quarters of a 
yard, or 45 inches, and could not be the measure 
used in the Statute of Northampton, in which 
the width of cloth is given as 6 quarters of 
an aune. 

Six quarters of a yard makes 54 inches, a 



THE ELL 47 

width which is still used for cloth at the present 
day ; but 6 quarters of an ell would be 6y^ 
inches, and 6 quarters and ^ quarter of an ell 
would be 73 J inches, measures which seem 
unlikely for the width of cloth. 

In France, on the contrary, "aune" always 
meant "ell." The French aune is supposed 
originally to have been the length of 4 Roman 
feet, or dfi\ British inches, but it varied in 
different parts of the country. The aune of 
Paris, however, was equal to 46*54 British 
inches. As there was much communication 
between England and France in the fourteenth 
century, there may have been some confusion 
between the British yard and the French ell ; 
and it may have been for this reason that the 
word ** verge" is used for **yard" instead of 
"aune," in a later statute of Edward IIL 

In a statute enacted in the fourteenth year 
of King Edward III., a.d. 1340, the law with 
regard to uniformity of weights and measures 
was laid down in the following words : — 

" Item come il soit contenuz en la grande 
chartre que une mesure et un poys soit parmy 
toute Engleterre, et auxist contenuz soit en un 
estatu fait en temps le Roi Edward aiel le Roi 



48 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD III. 

qorest, que nul ne vende par bussel sil ne soit 
marche du seal le Roi, et qil soit accordant a le 
standard du Roi. . . . 

" Si est assentiz et accorde que desore en 
avant un mesure et un poys soit parmy toute 
Engleterre, et que le Tresorier face faire 
certaines estandardz de bussel, de galon, de 
poys d'airesne, et les face mander en chascune 
countee, par la ou tielx estandardz ne sont pas 
avant ces hures mandez." 

" As it was contained in Magna Carta that 
there should be one measure and one weight 
throughout all England, and also, as it was 
contained in a statute made in the time of 
King Edward, the grandfather of the present 
King, that no one should sell by a bushel 
measure, unless it was marked with the Royal 
seal, and was in accordance with the standard 
measure of the King. . . . 

** It is now agreed and ordained that hence- 
forth there shall be one measure and one weight 
throughout the whole of England, and that the 
Treasurer shall cause to be made accurate 
copies of the standards of the bushel and 
gallon, and brass weights, and shall cause them 
to be sent to every county, to which these 
standards have not hitherto been sent." 

More than fifty years had passed since 
the ordinances of King Edward I. respecting 
weights and measures had been promulgated, 



THE AUNCEL FORBIDDEN 49 

and it was no doubt very necessary to see that 
they were strictly adhered to, and that every 
county and town in the kingdom was provided 
with certified copies of the standards. 

In the twenty-fifth year of Edward III. an 
important law was passed, by which the use of 
the auncel (see p. 33) was forbidden, and order- 
ing that, henceforth, all weighing must be done 
in England by the balance only. This was 
essential in order to ensure uniformity of 
weights, as there was no satisfactory means of 
checking the marks on the beam of the auncel, 
whereas weights, which had to be placed in the 
pan of a balance, could be inspected and marked. 

In the same statute it was laid down that 
the sack of wool was to weigh 26 stone, and 
that each stone was to be 14 lbs. This was 
an alteration in the provisions of The Assize of 
Weights and Measures, in which it was stated 
that the stone was i2|- lbs. The 14 lbs. stone, 
first mentioned in this law of Edward III., 
has been retained in this country to the present 
day. 

The difficulty experienced in the fourteenth 
century in maintaining uniformity of weights 
and measures is well illustrated by a statute, 

D 



50 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD III. 

which was enacted in the twenty-seventh year 
of Edward III. The tenth chapter of this 
statute contained the following words : — 

" Item par ce que nous avons entendu que 
aucuns marchand achetent avoir de pois, laines, 
et autres marchandises, par un pois, et vendent 
par un autre, et fount aussint deceivables 
retretes sur le poiser ; et aussint usent falses 
mesurres et verges, en grant deceite de nous et 
de tote la comunaute, et des loialz marchantz ; 
si volons et etablissons que un pois, un mesure, 
et une verge soit par tote la terre, sibien hors 
de lestaple come dedeniez ; et que laine et tote 
maniere de avoir de pois soient poisez par 
balance." 

**As we have been given to understand 
that certain merchants buy goods of avoirdu- 
pois, wools, and other merchandise by one 
weight and sell by another ; and also that they 
act deceitfully in the matter of weighing ; and 
also that they use false measures and yards, so 
as grievously to deceive us and all the people 
and the honest merchants ; we will and ordain 
that one weight, one measure, and one yard be 
used throughout all the land, as well without 
the Staple ^ as within it, and that wool and all 
goods of avoirdupois shall be weighed by the 
balance." 

1 The Staple is defined by Mr Chisholm as a " district 
in which commodities are authorised by authority to be 
bought and sold." 



AVOIRDUPOIS POUNDS 51 

In this statute there are several points 
which require consideration. In the first place 
it is quite clear that the word ''avoirdupois" 
meant, as I have explained at page 2,3^ goods 
of a certain kind, i.e., bulky or heavy goods, 
and not a particular pound weight. As a fact, 
there were three different pounds used at 
different times in England for weighing avoir- 
dupois goods, and called avoirdupois pounds. 
These were : — 

1. The pound of 15 troy ounces, or 7200 

troy grains. 

2. The pound of 16 troy ounces, or 7680 

troy grains. 

3. The pound of 16 avoirdupois ounces. 
The avoirdupois ounce was not divided into 

grains, the smallest division being the tV 
part of an ounce. For the avoirdupois pound 
the division into 16 ounces was essential, so 
that it could be halved continually downwards. 
It is not known exactly when this latter pound 
was first used in England, but it is possible 
that it was brought from France about the 
time of King Edward III., and was derived 
from one of the French pounds. In the time 
of Queen Elizabeth this pound weighed 



52 EDWARD 11. TO RICHARD III. 

approximately 7000 troy grains. The fact 
that there were several kinds of pounds used 
for avoirdupois goods gave opportunities for 
fraud to the dishonest merchants, as recorded 
in the statute under consideration. 

The deceits in the process of weighing were, 
no doubt, due to the persistent use of the 
auncel, and the only way that they could be 
prevented was by insisting on the use of the 
balance. 

The word ''verge" is, in this statute, used 
for the first time to represent ** yard " ; possibly, 
as I have suggested, this was to avoid con- 
fusion with the French "ell." 

The weighing of wool seemed a special 
source of fraud, and, in a.d. 1357, a law was 
enacted to the effect that standard balances 
were to be sent to every county, doubtless to 
replace the auncels, with standard weights, 
representing the sack of wool, the half sack, 
the quarter sack, the pound, half pound, and 
quarter pound. All local balances and weights 
were to be brought to the sheriff to be tested 
by the standards. 

In A.D. 1360 an Act was passed, ordering 
that auncel weight must be wholly put out, and 



THE QUAHTER 53 

that all weighing must be done by the balance. 
Another clause in the same Act repeats the law 
that all measures must be in accordance with 
the king's standards, including the bushel, half 
bushel, peck, gallon, pottle, and quart, and that 
the quarter must contain 8 bushels and no more. 
From this it would appear that there was 
still only one standard bushel and one standard 
gallon, which were to be used both for corn 
and for wine. But, as I have already pointed 
out, the standard bushel of Edward I. would 
not contain 64 pounds of wheat if sold by 
struck measure, and the London merchants 
were in the habit of counting 9 bushels to the 
quarter. Repeated laws were passed to stop 
this custom, and, among others, a statute of 
the first year of Henry V., by which it was 
ordained that a quarter of wheat must always 
consist of 8 standard bushels and no more, and 
that anyone who bought or sold by a different 
measure was to be imprisoned for a year, and 
to be fined 100 shillings. This fine of ;^5, for 
using or possessing for trade illegal measures, 
has been maintained ever since, and is that 
which is imposed for the first offence by the 
Weights and Measures Act of 1878. 

D 2 



54 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD HI. 

The London merchants, however, seem to 
have got their way in the end, and the diffi- 
culty was adjusted in the reign of Henry VII., 
by making the corn gallon contain a little more 
than 8 troy pounds of wheat. This is a 
good instance to show that the wishes of the 
people must be attended to with regard to 
weights and measures. These can be regular- 
ised by the Government, and uniformity can be 
insisted upon, but they cannot be materially 
altered. 

In the second year of King Henry V., a.d. 
1 4 14, an Act was passed dealing with the price 
which was to be paid for articles of silver gilt. 
In this it is stated that the goldsmiths were in 
the habit of charging for silver-gilt ware double 
the price of pure silver, ** which was an out- 
rageous price," and apparently, even then, the 
silver was not always of good quality. It was 
therefore enacted that in future no silver of 
less value than sterling {t,e, the silver used for 
coins) should be gilt, and that a troy pound of 
silver-gilt ware should be sold for ;^2, 6s. 8d. 
at the most. 

This is the first time that the pound used for 
weighing silver, ie, the pound of 12 ounces, is 



THE TOWER POUND 55 

definitely called a troy pound in the laws of 
England, and the view is thus confirmed that 
the lesser pound of Edward I. was the troy 
pound, and not the money pound of ii|- troy 
ounces (see p. 27). 

The latter, the money pound, is first called 
the ** tower pound" in an Act passed a few 
years later, in a.d. 142 i. This Act, which 
gives the regulations with regard to coining 
gold and silver, brought to the mint at the 
Tower to be converted into money, fixes the 
charge for coining at 5 shillings per tower 
pound [Livre de Tour) for gold, and 1 5 pence 
for silver. 

At this period the tower pound had ceased 
to represent a pound's worth of silver pennies, 
just as the original, or troy pound, had ceased 
to represent it in Anglo-Saxon times. As 
I have explained (see p. 27), the silver 
penny, the ^f^ part of the silver pound, 
ought to have weighed 32 wheat grains 
or 24 troy grains. But, under the Anglo- 
Saxon kings, and under the Norman kings up 
to Edward II., it weighed 22^ troy grains. 
Edward III. reduced it first to 20 grains and 
then to 18 grains, and Henry IV. still further 



56 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD III. 

reduced it to 15 grains, so that a tower pound 
was then coined, not into 240, but into 360 
silver pennies. This was no doubt due in part 
to the rise in the value of silver, but it was 
much to the advantage of the king's treasury. 
But the people generally were not allowed to 
gain anything, as, by an Act passed in a.d. 
1423, it was forbidden to purchase silver at a 
higher price than 30 shillings for the troy 
pound (Livre du Troie), being of as good alloy 
as the sterling, although, as is stated in the 
Act, the pound troy of coined silver was worth 
32 shillings, and should therefore have been 
made into 384 silver pennies. 

This Act definitely gives the relative weights 
of the troy and tower pounds as being 32 to 
30, and thus affords one more proof of the 
fact that the troy pound used for buying 
silver was 5760 grains, and that the tower 
pound used only in connection with the coining 
of silver was 5400 grains. 

The next Act which will be referred to 
deals with the methods adopted by the London 
merchants for cheating in the purchase of 
cloth. It is curious how persistent these 
merchants appear to have been in trying to 



CLOTH MEASURE 67 

get the better of their customers by using 
measures other than the legal standards. 
This Act was passed in the eleventh year of 
Henry VI., a.d. 1433, and the sixteenth 
chapter concerns the *'The Evil of Measuring 
Cloth by London Measure." 

It is stated that whereas formerly the 
London merchant, when purchasing cloth, 
measured by the yard and an inch {la alne et 
pous)y now he tries to measure by the yard 
and the full hand {par lalne et lapleyne mayn)y 
which gives the buyer the advantage of 2 
yards in the piece of 24 yards, '* by which 
many are fgrievously oppressed." It is then 
ordained that every official measurer of cloth 
{gardeyn del alnage de drap) shall have a 
measure of silk or of linen, 12 yards and 12 
inches in length, marked at each yard an 
inch, at each half yard half an inch, and 
at each quarter yard a quarter of an inch, and 
that all cloths are to be measured with this 
to the end of the cloth. 

In a statute of King Richard III., a.d. 1483, 
** Touchinge the order of dyeinge and of 
woUen cloths," the measures of cloths given 
in previous laws are repeated ; but the word 



68 EDWARD II. TO RICHARD HI. 

used for ''yard" in the French original is 
''verge," not "aune" or "aulne." In the old 
English version this is translated "yerde," and 
it appears to be the first time that this word 
is used in the laws to express a yard. It may 
be desirable therefore to recapitulate here the 
various terms used for "yard" in the British 
statutes : — 

Ulna, aune, aulne, alne, verge, yerde, yard. 



CHAPTER V 

KING HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

New Standard Weights and Measures issued in 1492. The 
Royal Commission of 1496. Definition of the Troy 
Pound. The Avoirdupois Pound of 16 Troy Ounces. The 
New Standard Corn or Winchester Gallon. The Win- 
chester Bushel. The Standard Yard of King Henry 
VII. The Old Standard Measures "damned and broken." 
The Tower Pound abolished by King Henry VIII. 
Butcher's Meat to be sold by Avoirdupois Weight. Com- 
mittee appointed in 1574 to inquire into Weights and 
Measures. List of New Standard Weights prepared by 
them. Second Committee appointed in 1582. New 
Standards prepared of the Troy Pound, the Avoirdupois 
Pound, the Corn Gallon and Bushel, the Ale Gallon, and 
the Yard. These were the British Standards until 1824. 

The reign of the next King of England, 
Henry VII., a.d. 1485- 1509, was an important 
epoch in the history of British weights and 
measures, as he seems to have devoted special 
attention to the subject. In the seventh year of 

his reign, a.d. 1491-1492, an Act of Parliament 

59 



60 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

was passed, re-enacting the former laws with 
regard to uniformity of weights and measures, 
and ordering that standards of brass were to 
be sent to every city in the kingdom. This 
Act was confirmed by another passed four years 
later, in which the names of forty-three county 
towns are given, to which the copies of the 
standards were to be sent, there to be kept 
by the mayors, bailiffs, and other chief 
officers. 

But the king and his councillors were not 
satisfied, and in a.d. 1496, a Royal Commis- 
sion was appointed, which sat in the Star 
Chamber at Westminster, to inquire into the 
whole system of British weights and measures. 
Their report is given in the Seventh Annual 
Report of the Standards Department of the 
Board of Trade, 1872-1873, accompanied by a 
very interesting commentary by Mr H. W. 
Chisholm, late Warden of the Standards. 
This is well worth careful perusal, but is too 
long to quote in extenso ; it is necessary, how- 
ever, to quote a part of the paper drawn up 
by the Royal Commissioners, which seems to 
have been a draft for the Act of Parliament 
passed in the following year : — 



THE ROYAL COMMISSION OF 1496 61 

" For the syse of our realme. Twenty pens 
the unce of Troie, which is for silver, golde, 
and bread, and all other maner of wares for 
one unce and one penie. 

**The same time ordeined twelve uncs of 
troie to be for xx^ sterling after xx^ the 
unce. And xii uncs for the pound weight, 
which is x\s currant at this daye, the which 
is foure Rialls, of olde time called foure nobles, 
the which weight standeth at this time for 
ye syse of the baker and other syses. 

** By the discretion and ordinance of our 
sovereigne Lord the King, and of his Lords 
Spiritual and Temporall, with the Commons 
of the same his realme of England, of all 
maner of weights and measure yt was made 
by the graine of wheate, that is to understand, 
that xxxii graines of wheate taken out of the 
middest of eere weigheth a sterling, otherwise 
called a peny, and xx^ sterling maketh an 
ounce, and twelve uncs maketh a pounde of 
Troye weight for silver, golde, breade ; and 
measure with half an unce with weight a pinte 
of wheate. And two pyntes maketh a quarte, 
and two quartes maketh a pottle, and two 
pottles maketh a gallon, and viii gallons maketh 
a bushell of wheate, and nother heape nor 
cantell, to be stricken with a raysing stricke, 
and viii bushells maketh a quarter, stricken 
with a raysing stricke, and nother heape nor 
cantell. 

" The same tyme ordeined that xvi uncs 



62 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

of Troie maketh the Haberty poie pounde for 
to buy spice by, to be devided from the more 
pte to the leaste, that is to saye, the unce and 
the pound for garbelling, a i lb., ii lb., iii lb., 
iiii lb., viii lb., and no further, of old tyme 
called the stone of London." 



In this paper the troy pound is described in 
exactly the same manner as the lesser pound in 
the ordinance of King Edward I. (see p. 26), 
and there can, I think, be no doubt that these 
two pounds are identical, and that the troy pound 
of Henry VII. was the ancient British pound. 

It will be observed that the value of money 
is given in terms of the troy pound, not of the 
tower pound. In the time of King Edward 
IV. the weight of the silver penny had been 
reduced to 1 2 troy grains, so that 480 silver 
pennies were contained in a troy pound (5760 
grains) of silver. This is given in the Royal 
Commissioners' paper as 40 shillings, which, of 
course, meant money of account, as at that 
time there were no coins of the value of a 
shilling. 

The **riair' or, as it is usually written, ryal, 
was a gold coin introduced by King Edward 
IV., which weighed 120 troy grains of gold, 



THE WINCHESTER BUSHEL 63 

and was of the value of 1 20 silver pennies, or J 
troy pound of silver. 

It is stated in the paper that the troy pound, 
like the lesser pound of Edward I., was to be 
used for gold, silver, and bread, but an import- 
ant change was introduced with regard to the 
measure of wheat. Instead of the pint measure 
containing exactly i troy pound of wheat, it 
was to contain a troy pound with half an ounce 
added, or 6000 troy grains. The gallon, there- 
fore, contained 8i pounds of wheat. The corn 
gallon, so constructed, still exists, and has a 
capacity of 2y2^ cubic inches. The bushel, 
which contained 8 of these gallons, is called 
the Winchester bushel. 

It is interesting to note that the avoirdupois 
pound mentioned by the Royal Commission is 
the pound of 16 troy ounces, and not the 
pound of 15 ounces. The 8 pound weight 
is described as the old stone of London ; this 
stone, though not a legal weight, is still used 
in selling butcher's meat. 

Besides the new measures of weight and 
capacity, a new standard yard was constructed 
in the reign of Henry VI L and is still preserved 
in the Standards Office ; this is an octagon bar 



64 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

of brass, on one side of which there are cross 
lines, showing h h h and ts- of a yard ; while 
on another side a foot is marked, divided into 
inches. This is the oldest standard yard that 
exists, and it only differs from the present 
standard by 0*037 inch. 

The new standard measures were legalised 
by an Act of Parliament passed in the twelfth 
year of Henry VII., which further ordered that 
the old local standards were to be ** damned 
and broken," and were to be replaced by copies 
of the new standards in all parts of the 
kingdom. 

The next important Royal Order, dealing 
with weights and measures, was one passed 
in the eighteenth year of King Henry VIII., 
A.D. 1527, by which the tower or money pound 
was abolished. As the weight of the silver 
penny had been diminished to 1 2 troy grains, 
the tower pound was coined into 450 pennies, 
an inconvenient number, as it was equal in 
value to ;^i, 17s. 6d. The Order, which dealt 
with matters concerning coinage, contained the 
following clause : — 

*'And whereas heretofore the merchaunts 
paid for coynage of every pounde Towre of fine 



THE TOWER POUND ABOLISHED 65 

gold, weighing xi oz. and quarter Troye, ii^ 
vid. Now it is determined by the King's 
Highness, and his said councille, that the fore- 
said pounde Towre shall be no more used and 
occupied, but all maner of golde and silver 
shall be wayed by the pounde Troy, which 
maketh xii oz. Troye, which exceedeth the 
pounde Towre in weight iii quarters of the 
oz." 

This was a useful improvement, as, in conse- 
quence of the diminution in the weight of the 
silver penny, the tower pound had ceased to 
have any meaning. 

In A.D. 1532 an Act was passed, fixing the 
price of butcher's meat, which ordained that 
beef, pork, mutton, and veal were to be sold 
by the weight called Mver du pots ; not more 
than one halfpenny was to be charged for a 
pound of beef or pork, nor than three farthings 
for a pound of veal or mutton. The avoirdu- 
pois pound here referred to was probably the 
same as the pound of 16 troy ounces mentioned 
in the Report of the Royal Commission of 1496. 

The question of British weights and 
measures was again taken up with great 
vigour in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In 
A.D. 1574, a committee of merchants and 



66 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

goldsmiths of London were appointed to 
investigate the question, and were given 
instructions, which may be summarised as 
follows : — 
I St. To inquire what sorts of weights may 

lawfully be used. 
2nd, How were they composed, and what were 

their names. 
2,rcl. Wherein did they differ from one another, 

and for what things were they severally 

to be used. 
^tk. How many ounces were in each kind of 

pound, and of what were these ounces 

composed. 
^tk. Whether the weights submitted to the 

committee for examination were correct. 
6th. To construct new standard weights. 
Jth. To have these new weights properly 

marked with their respective values. 
The committee went very carefully into the 
question, and examined a number of different 
weights, including the standards of the 
Exchequer of London, Winchester, and other 
cities, and the weights used at the Tower 
mint, and by the Goldsmiths' Company. In 
their report they replied to the questions 



THE COMMITTEE OF 1574 67 

which had been referred to them in the 
following manner : — 

**To the first of the same articles theye saie 
that ther are onlie twoo sortes of weights law- 
full in use at this daie in this realme of England, 
and none other so fare as to them doth in any- 
wise apeare. 

**To the second article they saye, that the 
one sorte of weight nowe in use is commonlie 
called the troie weight, and that other sorte 
thereof is also comonlie called the avoirdepoiz 
weight, and further they say that both the saide 
consiste compounded frome thauncient Englishe 
penye named a sterling, rounde and undipped, 
which penny is limeted to waie twoo and thirtie 
grains of wheate in the midest of the eare, and 
twentie of those pence make an oz., and twelf 
of those ounc make one pounde troie. 

*'To the thirde and four the articles theye 
saie that the said twoo sortes of weights doe 
differ in weight the one from the other three 
ounces troie at the pounde weight, for the 
pounde weight troie doth consiste onlie of 
xii oz. troie, and the lb. weight of avoir de 
poiz weight dothe consiste of fiftene ounc troie, 
and they saie that, according to the auncient 
usage and longe custome of time, wherof no 
memorie is to the contrary, the troie weight 
is to be used in the weainge of breade, gold, 
silver, pretious stonnes, pearles, corall, amber, 
and kindes of confections namelie, electuaries. 



68 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

And that in all other things the avoir de poiz 
weight is to be used. 

** To the fifte article they saie that the weights 
to them delivered by order of this corte, and 
all other by them examined, are uncertaine and 
not of the right standard of England, whose 
defectes and varietes emongest themselves 
under the titelles of their several names be 
hereafter particularly expressed in these 
presentes in maner and form following." 

The committee then enumerate the different 
troy and avoirdupois weights, which were sub- 
mitted to them for examination, and describe 
the variations that existed between them.^ In 
the case of the troy weights the differences 
were comparatively small ; but, on the other 
hand, the variations of the different avoirdupois 
weights were very considerable. Not only did 
weights, which were apparently intended to be 
the same, differ from one another, but there 
were evidently two different kinds of avoirdu- 
pois pounds, one being the pound of 15 troy 
ounces, and the other the avoirdupois pound of 
16 avoirdupois ounces, and approximately equal 
to 7000 troy grains. There was a 56 pound 

* For the comparison of weights made by the committee, 
see the Seventh Report of the Standards Department^ 1872- 1873, 
already quoted. 



THE COMMITTEE OF 1574 69 

Exchequer weight, based on the latter pound, 
which was supposed to date from the time of 
Edward III., while the smaller weights of the 
Exchequer, recently constructed, were evidently- 
based on the former pound. As, however, all 
the weights were submitted to the committee 
as avoirdupois pounds, they were naturally 
puzzled, and in their report went on as 
follows : — 

** To the sixte article they saie yt by resone 
of the saide defectes, and varietes of the saide 
weights as before is expressed, they could not 
vouche any sorte of the same, for the juste 
standerd of England, and therefore according 
to the chardge to them in yt behalfe geven, 
they have done to be sized one certen severall 
standerd as well of ye troie weight, as of the 
avoir de poiz aunswearable to the lawes and 
ordinances of this realme, and agreable to the 
very true olde standerd thereof, so neare as 
by their understanding, with all manner of 
diligence, and enquire they could finde out of 
suche severall poiz, as paterns thereof have 
bene delivired to them, for the purpose whereof 
particular mention is hereafter made in these 
presentes, under the titelles and names of the 
severall sortes as ensueth." 

The committee then describe the new weights, 

E 2 



70 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

which they had prepared, and which included 
the following : — 

1. A set of troy weights from 256 ounces 

down to Ts- ounce. 

2. A set of troy weights from i ounce to 

tV grain (the grain being A penny- 
weight). 

3. A set of troy weights from i ounce to 

tV grain (the grain being ^ penny- 
weight). 

4. A set of avoirdupois weights from 56 

pounds down to i pound. 

5. A set of avoirdupois weights from 8 

pounds to tV ounce. 

This is the first time that the division of the 
troy pennyweight into 24 barley grains, instead 
of 32 wheat grains, appears to have been 
recognised in an official document, although 
probably the former division had been used 
by the goldsmiths in England long previously. 
Mr Chisholm has pointed out that in the 
Issue Rolls of the Exchequer for 1356, there 
is a record of the purchase of certain instru- 
ments for the mint in the Tower, amongst which 
was included : — 



STANDARDS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH 71 

"One pair of small scales for the subtle 
assay, one little case with the small weights, 
viz., one pennyweight of 24 grains, one half 
pennyweight of 12 grains, etc." 

But, whenever the pennyweight of 24 grains 
was introduced into England, there can be no 
doubt that it definitely took the place of the 
ancient British pennyweight of 32 wheat grains 
in the time of Queen Elizabeth. 

With regard to the seventh article of their 
instructions, the committee reported that they 
had had the different weights properly marked 
with their respective values. 

Notwithstanding the care that the com- 
mittee of 1574 had taken, the queen and her 
councillors were not satisfied as to the accuracy 
of the standard weights which they had pro- 
duced, and in 1582 another committee was 
appointed to go into the whole question again. 
A new set of standard weights was then con- 
structed with the greatest care possible. The 
weights of the Goldsmiths' Company, which 
were considered to be most nearly in accord 
with the ancient standard of England, were 
taken as the basis of the troy weights, while the 
56 pound weight of King Edward III., which 



72 HENRY VII. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH 

has already been mentioned, was adopted as 
the standard for avoirdupois weight. This 
decision did away with the two other avoir- 
dupois pounds of 15 and 16 troy ounces. The 
avoirdupois pound of Queen Elizabeth was 
divided into 16 avoirdupois ounces, but not 
into grains ; it was equal in weight to 7002 
troy grains. The Elizabethan troy and avoir- 
dupois pounds remained the standard weights 
of England until 1824. 

As soon as the new standards had been 
completed, they were legalised by a royal 
proclamation, dated i6th December 1587, and 
fifty-seven copies were made and sent to the 
counties and important towns as a guide in the 
examination of the local weights. 

Besides the new weights, standards of the 
gallon and bushel were also made, based on the 
standards of King Henry VII., and a standard 
gallon for ale was legalised. 

A new standard yard of brass was made at 
the same time, and a standard ell of 45 inches in 
length was provided. These standard measures 
are still preserved in the Standards Office of 
the Board of Trade ; the yard agrees with the 
present standard yard within wT^th of an inch. 



CHAPTER VI 

KING JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

Hopton's Concordancy of Dates. His Tables of Weights and 
Measures in 1610. Description of the Troy and Avoirdu- 
pois Pounds. Hopton's Table of Measures of Length. 
The Cubit. Measurement of Brickwork. Gunter's Chain. 
Its Use for Land Measurement. The Standard Wine 
Gallon of 1707. The Standard Coal Bushel of 17 13. 
New Standard Yard and Pound constructed by Parlia- 
mentary Committee of 1758. Comparison of the Troy 
and Avoirdupois Pounds. The Weights and Measures 
Act of 1824. The Avoirdupois Pound fixed as 7000 
Grains. The Imperial Gallon. The Standard Yard and 
Pound destroyed in 1834. New Standards constructed. 
The Avoirdupois Pound made the Standard Imperial 
Pound. The Weights and Measures Act of 1878. The 
Troy Pound no longer a Legal Weight. Tables of British 
Weights and Measures, as now authorised. 

Although by the royal proclamation of 1587 
the number of legal pounds had been reduced 
to two, yet the avoirdupois pound, composed of 
16 troy ounces, appears to have continued in 
use for some time, as it is given in a work, 

78 



74 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

called the Concordancy of Dates, published by 
Arthur Hopton in 1610. This book, which, 
though much smaller, is somewhat on the same 
plan as Whitakers Almanack, devotes a chapter 
to the weights and measures used in England, 
and this commences as follows : — 

** In England we commonly use two kinds of 
weights, as Troy and Auerdupois ; by the 
Troy weight we weigh wheat, bread, gold, 
silver, and such like ; and this Troy weight 
containes in every pound 12 ounces, every 
ounce 20 penyweight, every penyweight 24 
grains." 

Hopton then gives a table of troy weight, 
which may be summarised as follows : — 



I pound 


= 


12 ounces. 


I ounce 


= 


20 penyweights. 


I penyweight 


= 


24 grains. 



He then proceeds to describe avoirdupois 
weight. 

*' By the weight Auerdupois is weighed all 
kinde of Grocerie, all Physicall drugges, all 
grosse wares, as Rosin, Pitch, Tarre, Tallow, 
Hempe, Flaxe, &c., and all Iron, Steel, Lead, 
Tinne, Copper, Allome, Copporas, &c. And 
though the pound of this weight bee greater 
then the pound Troy, yet is the ounce less ; 



THE AVOIRDUPOIS POUND 75 

because the pound Troy hath but twelve 
ounces, and the pound Auerdupois sixteene 
ounces, as in the table ensuing. And you 
must note that the Auerdupois pound is 
divided into Graines, Scruples, Dragmes, and 
so to Ounces, every one having a proper 
Character to express the same, as is set after 
the Table." 

The divisions of the avoirdupois pound 

given by Hopton are : — 

I pound = 1 6 ounces 3. 

I ounce = 8 dragmes 3. 

I dragme = 3 scruples 3. 

I scruple = 20 graines gr. 

It is rather remarkable that while Hopton 
in his statement correctly describes the avoir- 
dupois pound, as legalised in the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth, which was greater than the 
troy pound, while the avoirdupois ounce 
(about 437J troy grains) was less than the 
troy ounce (480 grains) ; yet the pound, of 
which he gives the subdivisions in the table, 
is the other avoirdupois pound, composed of 
16 troy ounces, referred to in the Report of 
the Royal Commission of 1496. The sub- 
divisions of the ounce, scruples, and drachms 
were always based on the troy ounce, and, 



76 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

although not mentioned in any of the statutes, 
were undoubtedly very ancient measures. 
According to the ordinance of King Edward 
I., apothecaries' drugs were to be weighed by 
the lesser or troy pound, while Hopton 
mentions **drugges" among the articles sold 
by avoirdupois weight. But the confusion 
between the different kinds of pounds is not 
surprising, and Queen Elizabeth and her 
councillors were wise in legalising only one 
kind of avoirdupois pound. 

In another useful work by Arthur Hopton, 
on land surveying, entitled Baculum Geo- 
deticuniy or the Geodetical Staff, he gives a 
full description of British measures of length, 
which may be summarised thus : — 



3 barley-( 


:orns 


= 


I inch. 


12 inches 




= 


I foot. 


1 8 inches 




= 


I cubit. 


3 feet 




= 


I yard. 


I J yards 




= 


I ell. 


II cubits 




= 


I perch 



40 perches = i furlong. 

8 furlongs »= i mile. 

It will be observed that Hopton includes 
the cubit in his table as a measure still in use. 



MEASUREMENT OF BRICKWORK 77 

although it had been superseded by the yard 
since the time of Edward I. And although 
the cubit as a measure of length is now almost 
forgotten, it is curious that it still gives evi- 
dence of its existence in the building trade, as 
nearly all bricks used in England are made on 
cubit measure. The English stock brick is 
J cubit in length, ^ cubit in width, and J cubit 
in thickness ; actually they are made a little 
less each way, 8f x 4^^ x 2f inches, so as to 
allow for the mortar joint. And not only is 
the size of bricks based on the cubit, but 
brickwork is usually measured by the perch or 
rod of 1 1 cubits, a very ancient British measure. 
A rod of brickwork is one rod in length, one 
rod in height, and three bricks in thickness. 
A rod therefore contains 22x66x3, or 4356 
bricks. 

It is usual for building surveyors to 
measure brickwork by the rod, and convert 
into feet, thus giving themselves unnecessary 
trouble ; it is an instance of the survival of an 
old custom at the present time long after its 
origin has been forgotten. 

Early in the seventeenth century an im- 
portant invention was made by Professor 



78 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

Edmund Gunter, of Gresham College, London, 
with the object of facilitating the measurement 
of land. As has already been explained (see 
p. 36), the acre, the unit of land measure, had 
been represented by the area of a rectangle, 
of which the length was a furlong or 40 perches, 
and the breadth 4 perches. The acre may 
therefore be shown graphically thus : — 

Area of i Acre. 



I furlong = 10 acres' breadths = 40 perches. 

Gunter conceived the idea of making a 
measure, which he called a '* chain," equal in 
length to the acre's breadth, and then dividing 
the chain into loo parts, which he called 
** links." A mark was made at every tenth 
link, to facilitate reading the number of links. 
The chain as designed by Gunter, has always 
been used by land surveyors since the time 
of its invention, and has proved to be a most 
useful instrument for the measurement of land. 

The principle of Gunter's chain can best be 
explained by the diagram on p. 79. 



GUNTER'S CHAIN 



79 



Let ABCD be a square, representing an 
area of land equal to lO acres. Divide the 
sides AB^ AD, into lo equal parts ; each of 
these parts will be the length of a chain or 
acre's breadth. Through E, the first of these 
divisions on AB, draw EF parallel to AD, and 
through G draw GH parallel to AB, 




Then it is evident, that as the square 
ABCD represents lo acres, the rectangle 
AEFD represents i acre, and the small 
square AEHG represents i square chain, or 
■^ acre. 

Now let the side AB represent i chain 
of ICO links, then the square ABCD is i 



80 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

square chain, or to- acre, the rectangle AEFD, 
is Tw acre, and the small square AEHG is 
nnTTT acre. 

Again, let the line AB represent a length 
of lo links ; then, in the same way, the square 
ABCD represents -xhr^ acre, the rectangle 
AEFD, TT7WT7 acre, and the square AEHG, 
T O 0^0 acre. 

It can be seen, therefore, that by measuring 
with Gunter's chain, the area of a rectangle 
of land can be obtained in acres, and decimal 
parts of an acre in a very simple manner. For 
example, let us take a rectangle, of which the 
length is 14 chains 73 links, and the breadth 
5 chains 32 links ; then, if these numbers are 
written decimally and multiplied, we obtain 
the area in square chains ; and, as 10 square 
chains are equal to i square acre, by moving 
the decimal point one place to the left, we 
get the area in acres, thus : — 

14*73 X 5'32 = 78*3636 square chains = 7*83636 acres. 

This is a far simpler method of calculating 
land area than the old system of measuring 
by perches and feet. 

The invention of the chain by Gunter was 



THE WINE GALLON 81 

a brilliant idea, but it was not the introduction 
of a new standard of measurement. It was 
the adoption of a very ancient unit of length, 
the acre's breadth, and the division of it in 
such a way as to make it more practically 
useful. I have dealt at some length with the 
matter of Gunter's chain, because it is an 
excellent example of the kind of improvement 
that can be made with advantage in a system 
of weights and measures. 

After the careful adjustment of the standards 
of weights and measures in the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth, no change of importance 
was made for many years, but several Acts of 
Parliament were passed to ensure uniformity. 

But in the fifth year of Queen Anne, a.d. 
1707, an Act was passed with reference to the 
wine gallon, which must be alluded to. In 
the year 1 700, a question had arisen respecting 
the duties to be charged on wine, and as to 
the legal content of the wine gallon. It will 
be remembered that the standard corn gallon 
had been fixed by King Henry VII., and the 
standard ale gallon by Queen Elizabeth ; but 
these sovereigns had not dealt with the wine 
gallon. It appeared that a wine gallon con- 



82 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

taining 231 cubic inches had been in use for 
a very long period, but its origin had been 
lost sight of. I have already shown (see p. 
31) that this was probably the wine gallon 
which was legalised by the Assize of Weights 
and Measures in the reign of King Edward 
I., but, rather curiously, the fact that the size 
of the wine gallon had been fixed by this king 
appears to have been forgotten. 

The matter was referred to the Court of 
Exchequer, and it was decided that the best 
solution of the difficulty was to pass the Act 
of Parliament mentioned above, by which it 
was enacted : — 

**That any round vessel, commonly called a 
cylinder, having an even bottom and being 
seven inches diameter throughout, and six 
inches deep from the top of the inside to the 
bottom, or any vessel containing 231 cubical 
inches and no more, shall be deemed and taken 
to be a lawful wine gallon." 

A standard gallon was constructed in accord- 
ance with this law, and continued to be the 
standard measure for wine until 1824. 

Another measure that was standardised in 
the reign of Queen Anne was the coal bushel, 



THE COAL BUSHEL 83 

which up to that time had been a customary 
but not a legal measure. By an Act passed 
in 1 7 13, it was enacted that '*in accordance 
with the practice and usage in the port of 
London for many years past, the coal bushel 
shall be made round, and with a plain and 
even bottom, and be ig^ inches from outside 
to outside, and to contain one Winchester 
bushel and one quart of water, according to 
the standard of the Winchester bushel of 13th 
and 14th of King William IIL, cap. 5." The 
Act of William IIL here referred to had defined 
the Winchester bushel as a "round measure 
with a plain and even bottom, 18J inches wide 
throughout and 8 inches deep, according to 
the standard in the Exchequer " ; the standard 
in the Exchequer being that which was con- 
structed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The 
coal bushel continued to be the standard 
measure until 1824. 

In 1758 a Parliamentary Committee was 
entrusted with the duty of constructing a new 
standard yard, and a new standard troy 
pound, and they took the greatest care to 
make these as accurate as possible. The 
yard was based on the Exchequer standard 



84 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

yard which had been constructed in the reign 
of Queen Elizabeth (see p. 72), checked by 
the length of a yard measure which had been 
made by the Royal Society in 1742. The 
troy pound was also made with great accuracy. 
This parliamentary committee also investi- 
gated the weight of the avoirdupois pound 
which had been legalised by Queen Elizabeth, 
and found that it was nearly equal to 7000 
troy grains ; but this appears to have been 
an accident, as, in the time of that queen, 
there does not seem to have been any attempt 
to make the avoirdupois pound commensurable 
with the troy pound. 

The next occasion for a careful revision of 
British weights and measures was early in the 
nineteenth century. Several committees of the 
House of Commons, and commissions specially 
appointed for the purpose between 18 14 and 
1 82 1, went very carefully into the whole 
matter, and the results of their investigations 
were embodied in an Act of Parliament, passed 
in the fifth year of King George IV., a.d. 1824, 
entitled. An Act for Ascertaining and Estab- 
lishing Uniformity of Weights and Measures. 

This Act, the most important that had been 



THE IMPERIAL STANDARDS 85 

passed since the thirteenth century, repealed 
all the laws upon the subject that had been 
enacted from the time of King Edward I., and 
codified the law respecting British weights and 
measures. It was ordained that the standard 
yard which had been constructed by the 
Parliamentary Committee of 1758 was to be 
called the ''imperial standard yard," and that 
all measures of length were to be based upon 
it ; also that the troy pound made by the same 
committee was to be called the "imperial troy 
pound," and all measures of weight were to be 
derived from it. 

The Act also laid down that in future the 
avoirdupois pound, composed of 1 6 avoirdupois 
ounces, was to be exactly equal in weight to 
7000 troy grains. This was the first time that 
the weight of the avoirdupois pound was defined 
in the laws of England in terms of the troy 
pound. 

The Act then ordained that all existing 

gallon measures were to be done away with, 

and that one gallon only was to be the legal 

standard measure for all purposes. This new 

standard gallon was defined as the volume of 

10 avoirdupois pounds of distilled water at the 

F 2 



86 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

temperature of 62° Fahrenheit, with the bar- 
ometer at 30 inches. The gallon was further 
defined as a measure containing exactly 
277*274 cubic inches of distilled water. The 
new standard gallon was therefore slightly 
larger than the Winchester gallon of King 
Henry VII., as the latter contained 272^^ cubic 
inches. 

The acre and other land measures were to be 
in accordance with the standard yard. 

Copies of the new imperial standards of 
weights and measures, duly certified, were 
ordered to be sent to all parts of the United 
Kingdom, and the standard yard and standard 
troy pound were placed in charge of the Clerk of 
the House of Commons. 

In 1834, ten years after the Weights and 
Measures Act was passed, the Houses of 
Parliament were destroyed by fire, and the 
standards were lost. There was, however, 
amply sufficient information available to enable 
them to be reconstructed with scientific accu- 
racy, and new standards were made in the course 
of a few years. But one change of considerable 
importance was made ; the new standard pound 
was the avoirdupois, and not the troy pound. 



THE TROY POUND ABOLISHED 87 

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1855, 
legalising the new standards, and they are now 
kept for safe custody at the Standards Office of 
the Board of Trade. 

These are the only legal standards for 
British weights and measures, but very accurate 
copies of the yard and pound, known as 
** parliamentary copies," are kept in the 
Standards Office, in the Houses of Parliament, 
at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, at the 
Royal Mint, and by the Royal Society. If, 
therefore, the original standards were lost, there 
would be no difficulty in constructing new ones. 

The last important Act dealing with British 
weights and measures was passed in 1878, and 
this superseded the Act of 1824, and other Acts 
which had been passed between 1824 and 1878. 
It made certain changes in the system, as the 
troy pound was done away with, and the 
imperial pound of 7000 imperial grains was 
made the only legal pound. The troy ounce 
was also made illegal for general use, and was 
only to be employed for buying and selling gold 
and silver, and precious stones, and for selling 
drugs retail. 

The British weights and measures now legal 



88 



JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 



in the United Kingdom are as given in the 
following tables : — 



(i) Measures of Weig-ht, 



16 drams 




= 


I ounce. 


16 ounces 




= 


I pound. 


14 pounds 




= 


I stone. 


8 stones 




r= 


1 hundredweight. 


20 hundredweights 


r= 


I ton. 




also 






7000 grains 




= 


I pound. 


(2) 


Measures 


of Capacity, 


4 gills 




= 


I pint. 


2 pints 




= 


I quart. 


4 quarts 




= 


I gallon. 


2 gallons 




= 


I peck. 


4 pecks 




= 


I bushel. 


8 bushels 




= 


I quarter. 


36 bushels 




= 


I chaldron. 


(3) Measures of Length. 


12 inches 




= 


I foot. 


3 feet 




= 


I yard. 


^\ yards 




= 


I rod, pole, or perch, 


4 perches 




= 


I chain of 100 Hnks. 


10 chains 




= 


I furlong. 


8 furlongs 




= 


I mile. 



SPECIAL WEIGHTS AND MEASURES 89 

(4) Measures of Land, 

40 square perches = i rood. 
4 roods = I acre. 

A figure showing the acre has been given 
on p. 78. 

The above are the only British weights and 
measures legal for general use, but there are 
certain others which, by the Act of 1878, may 
legally be employed for special purposes. These 
are : — 

1. For weighing gold and silver and precious 
stones. 

The Troy Ounce of 480 Grains, 

Quantities larger than i ounce are always 
described in ounces, not in pounds. Quantities 
less than i ounce are given in decimals of an 
ounce, not in grains. 

2. For the use of apothecaries, and for sell- 
ing drugs retail. 

A. Measures of Weight, 

20 grains = i scruple. 
3 scruples = i drachm. 
8 drachms = i apothecaries' ounce. 



90 JAMES I. TO QUEEN VICTORIA 

B. Measures of Capacity. 

60 minims = i fluid drachm. 

8 fluid drachms = i fluid ounce. 

It will be seen that the distinction of weights 
for different kinds of articles is exactly the 
same as it was in the days of King Edward I. ; 
the troy pound no longer exists, but the troy 
ounce is still used for gold, silver, and drugs 
(see p. 28), while the imperial pound, which 
corresponds to the ''greater pound" of Edward 
I., is used for '*all other things." This shows 
the tenacity with which old customs are main- 
tained in England, and is an indication of the 
difficulty that would be encountered, if a serious 
attempt were made to do away with the exist- 
ing British system of weights and measures, 
and to substitute for it the French or Metric 
system. If Parliament were ever so unwise as 
to pass a law making the Metric system com- 
pulsory in the United Kingdom, the certain 
result would be that the law would not be 
obeyed. A new kind of crime would have 
been created, but no government, and no courts 
of justice could compel a free people, like the 
British nation, to adopt a system of weights 



UNDESIRABLE CHANGES 91 

and measures to which they were not accus- 
tomed and which they did not want. As I 
have already remarked, weights and measures 
can be regularised by Government, but cannot 
be revolutionised. 



CHAPTER VII 

CONCLUSION 

Recapitulation of the Changes made in British Weights and 
Measures since Anglo-Saxon Times. There is now only 
one Pound, one Gallon, and one Bushel. Impossibility of 
altering the British Standards, Suggestions as to Improve- 
ments. No Change, however small, should be made 
hastily. 

Having in the preceding pages given an out- 
line of the history of British weights and 
measures during the past ten centuries, I will 
briefly recapitulate the changes which have 
been made from time to time in the direction 
of simplification and improvement. 

First, to take the measures of weight. 
There have been in use in England, at differ- 
ent times, five kinds of pounds, which may be 
enumerated thus : — 

I. The pound of 12 troy ounces, or 5760 troy 

grains. 
02 



THE DIFFERENT POUNDS 93 

2. The pound of iij troy ounces, or 5400 

troy grains. 

3. The pound of 15 troy ounces, or 7200 troy 

grains. 

4. The pound of 16 troy ounces, or 7680 troy 

grains. 

5. The pound of 16 avoirdupois ounces. 

Of these, the first appears without doubt to 
have been the original British pound, based on 
the Roman pound, and possibly introduced by 
the Romans during their occupation of Britain. 
It was the ** lesser pound " of Edward I., and 
was first called '* troy pound " in the laws in 
A.D. 1 4 14. The troy pound appears never to 
have altered from the time it is first mentioned, 
up to the date of its abolition by the Weights 
and Measures Act of 1878. 

The ounce, the A part of the troy pound, 
has also never altered, and has always con- 
sisted of 20 pennyweights. Up to the reign 
of Queen Elizabeth, the pennyweight was 
divided into 32 wheat grains ; but since then 
it has been divided into 24 barley grains, now 
called imperial grains. 

The second pound, consisting of 1 1 J ounces, 



94 CONCLUSION 

was the pound used for coinage, and probably 
dates from Anglo-Saxon times. As the prin- 
cipal royal mint was in the Tower of London, 
it was called the '' tower pound." The tower 
pound was abolished by Henry VIII. in 1527, 
as it was no longer required, and after that time 
the troy pound was used as the money pound. 

The third pound, consisting of 15 ounces, 
was the *' greater pound" described in the 
statutes of Edward I. It was used in weigh- 
ing avoirdupois, or bulky goods, and is last 
mentioned in 1574; it ceased to be a legal 
weight in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. 

The fourth pound, of 16 troy ounces, was 
also used for avoirdupois goods. The date of 
its introduction is unknown, but it ceased to 
be a legal weight in the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth. 

The fifth pound, composed of 16 avoirdu- 
pois ounces, was legalised by Queen Elizabeth 
as the standard avoirdupois pound ; but there 
is little doubt that it was used in England for 
some time previously, though the date cannot 
be definitely fixed. This pound was not 
divided into grains, but, when legalised in 1587, 
it was nearly equal to 7000 troy grains : and in 



THE DIFFERENT GALLONS 95 

1824 its weight was slightly altered, so as to 
make it exactly equal to 7000 grains. Since 
1878, when the troy pound was abolished, the 
imperial pound of 16 ounces, or 7000 imperial 
grains, has been the only British pound. 

With regard to measures of capacity, the 
bushel and the gallon, and probably also the 
quart and the pint, have been in use from the 
earliest times, but their contents have varied. 
There have been six different gallons, viz. : — 

1. The original corn gallon, containing 8 
troy pounds of wheat. 

2. The wine and corn gallon of King 
Edward I., which probably contained about 
230I- cubic inches. 

3. The corn or Winchester gallon of King 
Henry VIL, containing 272*25 cubic inches. 

4. The ale gallon of Queen Elizabeth, con- 
taining 282 cubic inches. 

5. The wine gallon of Queen Anne, contain- 
ing 231 cubic inches. 

6. The imperial gallon of 1824, containing 
277*463 cubic inches. 

It is difficult to state accurately what was 
the capacity of the original gallon measure, 
containing 8 pounds of wheat, as it depends on 



96 CONCLUSION 

whether the amount of wheat was to be taken 
by heaped or struck measure. If the former, 
the gallon would have been about 235 cubic 
inches; if the latter, about 261 cubic inches. 
The original corn gallon appears to have been 
superseded as a legal measure by the gallon of 
Edward I., but probably continued to be used 
as a customary measure. 

The gallon of Edward I. was superseded as 
a corn gallon by the Winchester gallon of 
Henry VII., but was continued as a wine 
gallon by the standard wine gallon of Queen 
Anne. 

The ale gallon, previously to being legalised 
by Queen Elizabeth, was probably a customary 
measure. 

All the existing gallons were abolished by 
the Act of 1824, and since that year the 
British imperial gallon, which contains exactly 
10 imperial pounds of distilled water at a 
temperature of 62° Fahrenheit, has been the 
only British gallon legal for all purposes. 

There have been five different bushels, as 
follows : — 

I. The original corn bushel, containing 64 
troy pounds of wheat. 



THE DIFFERENT BUSHELS 97 

2. The bushel of King Edward I., probably 
containing about 1845 cubic inches. 

3. The Winchester bushel of King Henry 
VII., containing 2124 cubic inches. 

4. The coal bushel of Queen Anne, contain- 
ing 2218*48 cubic inches. 

5. The imperial bushel of 1824, containing 
2219704 cubic inches. 

The first of these bushels appears to have 
succeeded as a legal measure by the second ; 
but, as I have shown (see p. 53), probably 
continued to be used as a customary measure 
by the citizens of London until the reign of 
Henry VII., when the Winchester bushel was 
made the legal measure for corn. Both the 
Winchester bushel and the coal bushel were 
done away with by the Act of 1824, when the 
imperial bushel, containing 8 imperial gallons, 
or 80 pounds weight of distilled water, was con- 
stituted the only legal bushel for all purposes. 

Of the British measures of length, the mile, 
the acre's length or furlong, the acre's breadth 
or chain, and the perch or rod, seem never to 
have altered since the times of the Anglo- 
Saxons. The yard or double cubit appears 

to have taken the place of the single cubit, 

G 



08 CONCLUSION 

when the royal iron standard yard was con- 
structed in the thirteenth century. 

The foot, which up to that time had been 
an uncertain measure, was then definitely fixed 
as being one-third of the standard yard. 

The acre, the unit of land measure, has 
never altered since the earliest times, and it 
can never be changed, as upon it depends the 
whole system of land tenure in England. 

Notwithstanding the perfection to which the 
British system of weights and measures has 
been brought, it may fairly be asked whether 
any improvements are possible with a view 
to further simplification. This is a matter 
deserving careful consideration. 

It is clear that the units of the system, the 
imperial pound, the standard yard, the gallon, 
which depends upon the pound, and the acre, 
which depends upon the yard, should never 
be altered. But, as regards the subordinate 
measures, there are certain small changes, 
which might possibly be made with advantage, 
and without interfering in any way with the 
continuity of the British system. 

First, as regards measures of weight. 

(a) The term ** avoirdupois " might be 



POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENTS 99 

dropped. As there is now only one kind of 
pound, the word is no longer required, and is 
misleading, as causing it to be thought that 
there are two different kinds of weight. 

{b) The term **dram" might possibly be 
given up, as quantities less than J of an ounce 
can best be expressed in grains. 

{c) The troy ounce, the unit of weight for 
gold and silver, might be called simply a 
** troy," so as to avoid the confusion possibly 
caused by having two different kinds of 
ounces. 

{d) Apothecaries weight might be done away 
with, as drugs can perfectly well be sold by the 
imperial ounce and the imperial grain. It is 
a grave defect in apothecaries weight that the 
ounce for things liquid is not the same as for 
things solid. 

Secondly, as regards measures of capacity. 

The measures of capacity used by apothe- 
caries might be brought into the table of 
measures of capacity, legal for all purposes. 

Thirdly, as regards measures of length. 

The rod, pole, or perch might be given up, 
as its place in land measurement has been taken 
by the chain of lOO links. 



100 CONCLUSION 

Fourthly, as regards measures of land. 

The square perch and rood might cease to 
be legal measures, as areas of land less than 
an acre can best be expressed as decimal parts 
of an acre. The areas given on the ordnance 
survey maps of the United Kingdom are always 
expressed in this manner. 

But even such small changes as the above 
should not be adopted without careful investiga- 
tion as to whether any public inconvenience 
might be caused which would be greater than 
the advantage to be gained by the proposed 
simplifications. Any change in weights and 
measures is a serious matter, and not one to 
be taken in hand lightly. 



INDEX 



Acre, the, 15, 18, 36, 78, 89, 98, 100 

dimension of, as given in the 

ordinance of King Edward 

I., 36 

used in Anglo-Saxon times, 16, 18 

Acre's breadth, the, an ancient 

measure of length, now called 

the chain, 13, 18, 78, 97 

Acre's length, the, or furlong, 13, 

16,97 
Acts of Parliament dealing with 
weights and measures, 25, 41, 
43, 44, 45, 47, 49. 52, 53, 54, 
55, 57, 59, 64, 65, 81, 83, 84, 
87,96 
Ale gallon, the, 35, 72, 81, 95 
measure, 12, 23, 35 
price fixed for selling, 35 
Amber, the, an Anglo-Saxon 

measure of capacity, 1 2 
Anglo - Saxon laws concerning 
weights and measures, 8, 12, 
16, 17 
not changed by the Normans, 
21 
Anne, statutes of Queen, concern- 
ing the wine gallon and the 
coal bushel, 81, 83 
Apothecaries' weights and measures, 

28, 29, 67, 76, 89, 99 
Assize, the, of Bread and Ale, 35, 34 
of Weights and Measures, 25, 
26, 82 
101 



Athelstane, the law of King, re- 
specting the King's peace, 12 

Auncel, the, an instrument used for 
weighing avoirdupois goods, 
33, 52 
use of, forbidden by law, 49, 52 

Aune, a word used to express yard, 
46, 47, 57, 58 ^ 

Avoirdupois, meaning of the word, 

33,51 
the word, first used in the laws 
in the reign of King Edward 

II., 44 
ounce, the, not divided into 

grains, 51, 70, 94 
goods, ordered to be weighed by 

the balance, 49, 52 
pounds, the diflferent kinds of, 34, 

51, 68, 72, 94 
pound, the, composed of 1 5 troy 

ounces, 44, 51, 67, 72, 94 
composed of 16 troy ounces, 

51, 6t, 65, 72, 75, 94 
composed of 16 avoirdupois 

ounces, 51, 68, 72, 75, 84, 

85, 87, 93, 94 
weight, nature of goods sold by, 

33, 51, 68, 74 

Balance, weighing by the, 33, 49, 

53 
law that all kinds of goods must 
be weighed by the, 49, 53 



102 



INDEX 



Barley-corn, the, used as a measure 
of length, 12, 15, 36, 39, 76 
used as a measure of weight, 6, 70 

Board of Trade, the Standards 
Department of the, 2, 60, 68, 87 

Bread and Ale, the Assize of, 25, 34, 

39 
prices fixed for sale of, 34 
Brickwork, the measurement of, 77 
Bushel, the, probably used in Anglo- 
Saxon times, 12, 18 
corn, 53, 61, 63, 72, 96, 97 
of King Edward I., 30, 39, 42, 97 
coal, of Queen Anne, 82, 97 
imperial, legalised in 1824, 88, 97 
London, 12, 30, 53 
Winchester, 63, 72, 83, 97 
Bushels, list of, used at different 

times, 96 
Butter, the measure of, in Anglo- 
Saxon times, 12 

Canute, law of King, respecting 

weights and measures, 17 
Capacity, measures of, probably 
based on measures of weight, 
23 
apothecaries' measures of, 90, 99 
imperial measures of, 88, 99 
Carat, the Egyptian, 6 
jewellers', composed of four wheat 
grains, 7 
Chain, the, or acre's breadth, 13, 18, 
78, 88, 99 
invented by Prof. E. Gunter, 77 
Chaldron, the, a measure of thirty- 
six bushels, 88 
Changes, precis of, in British 

weights and measures, 92 
Charlemagne, the Emperor, his 
system of money and weights, 
10 



Chisholm, Mr M. W., Warden of 
the Standards, 50, 60, 70 

Cloths, regulations for the measure- 
ments of, 22, 45, 57 

Coal bushel, the, 82, 97 

Coining gold and silver, price fixed 
for, 55, 64 

Commission, the Royal, of 1496, on 
weights and measures, 60, 63 

Committee, the, of 1574, on weights 
and measures, 65 
of 1582, on weights and'measures, 

71 
the Parliamentary, of 1758, on 
weights and measures, 83 
Comparison of weights by the Com- 
mittee of 1574,68 
Corn bushel, the, 53, 61, 63, 72, 97 
gallon, the, 23, 30, 39, 53, 61, 63, 
72,81,95 
Cubit, the, 13, 24, 37,41, 76,97 
Custom duties on goods imported 
into England, 44 

Denier, the French, 11 
Dirhem, the Egyptian, 6 
Domesday Book, 21 
Drachm, the, an apothecaries' 
weight, equal to 60 grains, 75,89 
the fluid, an apothecaries' mea- 
sure, equal to ^ ounce, 90 
Dram, the, an imperial measure, 
equal to -^fr ounce, 88, 99 

Edgar, the law of King, respect- 
ing weights and measures, 8 

Edward I., the laws of King, re- 
specting weights and measures, 
24 

Edward II., the laws of King, re- 
specting weights and measures, 
44 



INDEX 



103 



Edward III., the laws of King, re- 
specting weights and measures, 

45. 47, 49 
respecting the measurement of 
cloth, 45 
Egyptian weights, 6 
Elizabeth, Queen, her action with 
regard to weights and measures, 

65 
Ell, the British, 46, 72, 76 

standard, of Queen Elizabeth, 72 
French, 47 
Elne, the, or Anglo-Saxon cubit, 14 
Ethelred II., the laws of King, 
respecting weights arad mea- 
sures, 16 
Exchequer standard yard, the, 83 

Foot, the, a measure equal to I 
yard, 37, 64, 76, 88, 98 
not a fixed measure in Anglo- 
Saxon times, 13, 37 
standardised in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, 37 
Furlong, the, or acre's length. 13, 
18, 76, 78, 88, 97 

Gallon, the, 18, 23, 30, 31, 35, 40, 
42, 53, 54, 61, 63, 72, 81, 85, 
88, 95, 98 
ale, 72, 81, 95 
corn, 23, 30, 39, 53, 61, 63, 72, 

81,95 
imperial standard, legalised in 

1824, 85, 88, 95, 98 
Winchester, 63, 95 
wine, 23, 30, S3, 81, 95 
Gallons, list of different, used at 

different times, 95 
Gill, the, a measure equal to J pint, 

88 
Grain, the barley, 6, 70 



Grain, imperial, 87, 99 
troy, 6, 17, 36, 51, 55, 62, 64, 

70, 74, 88, 89, 93 
wheat, 6, 26, 29, 55, 61, 67, 70 
Grains of corn, the use of, as 

weights, 6 
Grith, the King's, 12 
Gunter's chain, for measuring land, 
78 

Hand, the, a measure of length 
equal to four inches, 1 5 

Hand-breadth, or palm, the, a mea- 
sure of length equal to three 
inches, or four finger-breadths, 
12, 15,57 

Heaped measure for com, 30, 61 

Henry I., law of King, respecting 
the King's peace, 12 
the laws of King, are a repeti- 
tion of the Anglo - Saxon 
laws, 21 

Henry III., law of King, respect- 
ing weights and measures, 22 

Henry V., law of King, respecting 
silver-gilt ware, 54 
respecting measures of capacity, 53 

Henry VI., law of King, respecting 
the measurement of cloth, 57 

Henry VII., King, his action with 
regard to weights and measures, 

59 
Henry VIII., law of King, aboHsh- 

ing the tower pound, 64 
Hopton, Arthur, gives a table of 
British measures of length in 
the Geodeiical Staffs published 
in 1610, 76 
gives a table of British measures 
of weight in the Concord- 
ancy of Dates, published in 
1610, 74 



104 



INDEX 



Hundredweight, the, 88 

Illegal weights and measures used 

by London merchants, 50, 56 
Improvements in weights and mea- 
sures, 38, 65, 7a, 81, 98 
Ina, law of. King of Wessex, re- 
specting measures of capacity, 
13 
respecting the yard of land, 16 
Inch, the, 15, 37, 38, 39, 57, 76, 88 
standardised in the thirteenth 
century, 38 
Instructions to the Committee of 
1574 on weights and measures, 
66 

John, law of King, respecting 
weights and measiu-es, 22 

Land, measures of, 18, 36, 78, 89, 

98, 100 
Laws of England, the language in 
which the, were written, 4 
respecting weights and measures, 
8, 12, 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, 41, 
43, 44, 45, 47, 49, 52, 53, 54, 
56, 57, 59, 64, 65, 72, 81, 83, 
84,87 
Lead, regulations for weighing, 31 
Length, measures of, 12, 18, 24, 36, 
37, 46, 52, 58, 63, 72, 76, 88, 
97,98 
London weight, 8, 26, 30, 62, 66 

Magna Carta, 22 

Measures, standard weights and, 
made by King Edward I., 41 
made by King Edward III., 48 
made by King Henry VIL, 60, 64 
made by Queen Elizabeth, 70 
made by King George IV., 85 
made by Queen Victoria, 86 



Measurement of cloths, 22, 24, 45, 

57 
of land, 12, 18, 36, 78, 89, 100 

Meat ordered to be sold by avoir- 
dupois weight in 1532, 65 

Metric system, the, of weights and 
measures, 90 

Mile, the, 12, 18, 76, 88, 97 

Minim, the, an apothecaries' mea- 
sure, equal to one-sixtieth of a 
fluid drachm, 90 

Money, Anglo-Saxon, 9, 10 

Northampton, the Statute of, 45 

Ordeal, the law of trial by, 13 
Ordinances of uncertain date, but 
probably not later than the 
reign of King Edward I., 24 
Ordnance survey maps, how the acre 

is divided on the, 100 
Ore, the Danish, equal to iV pound, 

II 
Ounce, the, 17, 26, 28, 29, 61 
avoirdupois, 51, 68, 75, 92 
fluid, 90, 99 
imperial, 88, 95, 99 
troy, 6, 17, 44, 51, 55, 61, 63, 
65, 67, 68, 74, 89, 92, 94, 99 

Palm, the, a measure of length 

equal to ^ cubit, 12, 15 
Parliamentary copies of the standard 

yard and pound, 87 
Peck, the, a measure of capacity 

equal to two gallons, 53, 88 
Penny, the Anglo-Saxon, 9, 10 
British sterling, used as a weight, 

26, 28 
silver, 9, 10, 27, 29, 35, 55, 62, 64 
depreciation in the weight of the 
silver, 55, 62, 64 



INDEX 



105 



Pennyweight, the, originally com- 
posed of 33 wheat grains, 7, 29, 
67,70 
composed of 24 barley or troy 
grains, 7, 70, 74 
Perch, the, a measure equal to J of 
an acre's breadth, 13, 36, 38, 76, 
78, 89, 97, 99 
Pint, the, a measure which originally 
held one pound, 23, 95 
of wheat, 23, 61 
of wine, 23 
imperial, 88 
Pole, the, a measure of length equal 
to the perch, or 5i yards, 88, 

99 
Pottle, the, a measure equal to two 

quarts, 53, 61 
Pound, the Anglo-Saxon, 6, 14, 17 
avoirdupois, composed of 15 troy 
ounces, 34, 44, $1, 68, 72, 93 
composed of 16 troy ounces, 51, 

62, 63, 65, 72, 73, 75, 94 
composed of 16 avoirdupois 
ounces, 44, 51, 68, 72, 75, 84, 

85,94 
Danish, 11 
Egyptian, 6 
French, 11 
greater, of King Edward I., 28, 

30,94 
imperial, 86, 88, 95, 98 
lesser, of King Edward I., 28, 30, 

93 
merchants', 9, 11, 17 
Roman, 11 
tower, or money, 9, 17, 27, 55, 

64,93 
troy, 5, 9, 37, 54, 56, 61, 63, 67, 
74, 83, 87, 93 
Pounds, list of diflferent, used at 
diflferent times, 92 



Punishments for the non-observance 

of the Assize of Bread and 

Ale, 39 

for the use of illegal measures in 

the reign of King Henry V., 

53 

Quart, the, a measure equal to two 

pints, 53, 61, 88 
Quarter, a measure equal to eight 
bushels, 12, 30, 35, 53, 61, 88 
the London, 22, 30 
of nine bushels, forbidden in 1360, 
53 

Regulations for keeping the 
standards in the thirteenth 
century, 39, 42 
for the measurement of cloths, 22, 
45,57 

Richard III., law of King, respect- 
ing cloth, 57 

Rod, the, another name for the 
perch, 77, 88, 97, 99 

Rood, the, a measure of land equal 
to J of the acre, 89, 100 

Ryal, a gold coin of King Edward 
IV., 62 

Sack of wool, weight of the, 31, 

49, S2 
Scilling, the Anglo-Saxon, 10, 20 
Scruple, the, a measure of weight 

equal to 20 grains, 75, 89 
Shilling, the English, 10, 20, 35 
French, 11 

used as the name of a weight, 
38, 39, 31, 35 
Silver, the price of, fixed in 1423, 

56 
Silver-gilt ware, the price of, in 
1414, 54 

H 



106 



INDEX 



Silver penny, the, 9, 10, 27, 29, 35, 

55, 62, 64 
Sou, the French, 1 1 
Stamford, the Statute of, 44 
Standard weights and measures, 

distributed by King Edward I., 

41 
distributed by King Edward III., 

48 
distributed by King Henry VII., 

60, 64 
distributed by Queen Elizabeth, 

73 
distributed by King George IV., 

85 
Standard yard and pound, the, 

destroyed by fire in 1834, 86 
Staple, meaning of the word, 50 
Statute, the, concerning bakers, etc., 

39 

for measuring land, etc., 36 

of Northampton, 45 

of Stamford, 44 

of Wales, 41 
Stone, the, composed of 14 pounds, 
49,88 

composed of 12^ pounds, 30 

composed of 8 pounds, 62, 63 

imperial, 88 
Struck measure for corn, 61, 96 

Tables of British measures of 
capacity, 88, 90 
of land, 89 
of length, 76, 88 
of weight, 29, 74, 75, 88 
Tower pound, the, composed of iij 
ounces, 9, 17, 27, S 5, 93 
abolished byKing Henry VI 1 1., 64 
Troy ounce, the, 6, 17, 44, 51, 55, 
61, 63, 65, 67, 68, 74, 89, 92, 
94,99 



Troy pound, composed of 12 ounces, 
5. 9, 27, 56, 61, 63, 67, 74, 
83, 87, 93 

first called troy pound in the 
laws in 1414, 54 

abolished by the Weights and 
Measures Act of 1878, 87, 93 
weight, meaning of the expres- 
sion, 32 

nature of articles sold by, 32, 
54, 61, 74, 90 

not legal since 1 878, except for 
special purposes, 89 

Ulna, a Latin word, meaning cubit, 

14 
a measure of length used by the 

Anglo-Saxons, 14 
a measure used for cloth in the 

reign of King Henry III., 24 
used to express the yard, 36, 37, 

41,58 

Verge, a French word used for 
yard, 47, 52, 58 

Wales, the Statute of, 25, 41 
Wastel bread, price and weight of 

the loaf of, 34 
Weights and measures, Anglo- 
Saxon, 9, 17 
British, not changed by the 

Normans, 21 
Assize of, 25, 26, 82 
Royal Commission of 1496 on, 60 
standards of, constructed by King 

Henry VII., 63 
Committee of 1574 on, 65 
Committee of 1582 on, 71 
Parliamentary Committee of 1 758 

on, 83 
Act of 1824,^4 



INDEX 



107 



Weights and Measures, Act of 1878, 

87 

British, now authorised by law, 87 
summary of history of British, 92 
can be regularised by Govern- 
ment, but not revolutionised, 
54,90 
Wey, the, a measure of weight for 

wool, etc., 8, II, 32 
Winchester bushel, the, 63, 83, 97 

gallon, 63, 95 
Wine gallon, the, 23, 30, 53, 81, 95 

measure, 22, 30, 81, 95 
Wool, the price of, 8 
weight, 8, II, 31,49, 52 

Yard, the, a measure composed of 
3 feet or 36 inches, 13, 24, 37, 
46, 52, 57, S8, 63, 72, 76, 83, 
87, 88, 98 



Yard, iron standard, of King Edward 

I., 37, 39 
brass standard, of King Henry 

VII., 63 
brass standard, of Queen Eliza- 
beth, 72 
standard, constructed by the Royal 
Society in 1742, 84 
constructed by the Parliament- 
ary Committee of 1758, 83 
legalised by the Act of 1824, 85 
destroyed by fire in 1834, 86 
new standard, legalised in 1855, 

87 
different words used in the laws to 
express the, 58 
Yard of land, an Anglo-Saxon 

measure of area, 16 
Yerde, the word used for yard in the 
Act of 1483, 58 



H 2 



PBINTEI> BY 

OLIVER AND BOYD 

EDINBURaH 



A SELECTION FROM 

Mr MURRAY'S LIST 



A ORITIOAL EXAMINATION OP SOCIALISM. By 
W. H. Mallock. Cheap Edition. Crown 8vo. Paper 
Covers. Is. net. 

"Mr Mallock's brilliant critical examination." — Times. 

** We have not met with a more able statement of the points at 
issue, and everyone should read the book, whether he is an opponent 
or a defender of Socialistic theories. ... By this book Mr 
Mallock resumes the position he held twenty years ago as one of the 
shrewdest thinkers and most lucid writers in our midst." — Sheffield 
Independent. 

THE PEOPLE'S PROGRESS : A Study of the Facts of 
National Wealth, and some Answers to Socialists. By 
Frank Ireson, B.A. Demy 8vo. 2s. 6d. 

" As a text-book of political economy, Mr Ireson's little volume 
wiU be cordially welcomed. As a scathing exposure of Fabian 
absurdities it has few if any equals."— GZofte. 

THE BASIS OP SOCIAL RELATIONS : A Study in 
Ethnic Psychology. By Daniel G. Brinton. Edited 
by Livingston Farrand. Demy 8vo. 8s. net. 

THE PRINCIPLES AND METHODS OP TAXATION. 

By G. Armitage Smith, M. A., Principal of the Birkbeck 
College. Crown Svo. Cheap Edition. 2s. 6d. net. 

The object of this work is to present in a concise and simple 
form an account of the British system of taxation and the principles 
on which it is based, together with some of the leading historical 
facts in its evolution. 

'* A treatise as useful as it is modest, which discusses in a broad 
and lucid way the principles and history and difficulties of taxation," 
— St James'8 Gazette, 



COLLECTIVISM : A Study of some of the Leading Social 
Questions of the Day. By Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, 
Member of the Institute, and Professor of the College 
of France. Abridged and Translated by Sir Arthur 
Clay, Bart. Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net. 

'* It is a searching exposure of the shallowness and sophistry of 
the leading Socialistic writers of our time, and could it only be 
plainly made known to the crowds who unthinkingly believe and 
applaud the Socialistic agitators in our streets, it would serve a still 
more useful purpose. . . . Many difficulties which the Sociahsts 
have not detected are explained with much force and lucidity in M. 
Beaulieu's book, which it is to be hoped will be carefully read by all 
who have it in their power to influence the working classes of this 
country." — Yorkshire Post. 

LOCAL AND CENTRAL GOVERNMENT : A Compara- 
tive Study of England, France, Prussia, and the United 
States. By Percy Ashley, M.A., Lincoln College, 
Oxford ; Lecturer at the London School of Economics 
and Political Science in the University of London; 
Author of "Modern Tariff History." Demy 8vo. 
10s. 6d. net. 

THE MANUFACTURE OP PAUPERS : A Protest and 
a Policy. By Sir Arthur Clay, Bart, Sir William 
Chance, Bart., Sir Edward Brabrook, W. A. Bailward, 
Miss K. V. Bannatyne, Thomas Mackay, Colonel E. 
MoNTEFioRE, and Mrs E. T. Ogilvy. With an Introduc- 
tion by J. St Loe Strachey. Large Crown 8vo. 
2s. 6d. net. 

*• These papers form a strong and emphatic condemnation of the 
•dole' system of government, which is becoming more and more 
characteristic of modern England, and which is viewed with so much 
concern by all those who value manly independence and individual 
intelligence. The book should be carefully studied by those senti- 
mental but unwise people who continuallv cry aloud for the State to 
do this or that, without pausing to recollect that every new step in 
that direction is helping to destroy all that has made the England of 
the past. The articles on the feeding of school children are especially 
vigotoMS.^^— Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 

MUNICIPAL OWNERSHIP. By Major Leonard Darwin, 
Author of "Municipal Trade" and "Bimetallism." 
Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net. 

Four Lectures deUvered at Harvard University, discussing in a 
popular manner the advantages and disadvantages of Municipal 
Ownership, as Municipal Trade is called in the United States. 

2 



THE BRITISH TRADE BOOK. First Issue, covering 
the 25 years (1880-1904), and showing the Course of 
Trade; Second Issue, covering the 26 years (1880-1905), 
and sliowing the Course of Trade. By John Holt 
Schooling. With numerous Tables, each containing 
several sections of British or of International Trade. 
Numerous Diagrams. 10s. 6d. net each issue. 

This is the only book that shows the course of trade in an 
intelligible and compendious form. 

" This is going to be one of the great books of reference, universally 
recognised as such, a storehouse of sifted and ordered facts, indis- 
pensable to anyone taking part in current economic controversies." — 
Guardian. 

*• No thoughtful and patriotic EngUshman, whatever his political 
creed, will refuse gratitude to Mr Schooling for this most opportune 
work. The excellence of Mr Schooling's method is clear at a first 
glance amongst the tables. " — Daily Chronicle. 



WORKS BY SIR HENRY S. MAINE 

ANCIENT LAW. Its Connection with the Early History 
of Society, and its Relation to Modern Ideas. With 
Introduction and Notes by Sir Frederick Pollock, 
Bart. Demy 8vo. 5s. net. 

ANCIENT LAW. Demy 8vo. 2s. 6d. net. 

INTRODUCTION AND NOTES TO MAINE'S ANCIENT 
LAW. By Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart. Demy 8vo. 
2s. 6d. net. 

VILLAGE COMMUNITIES IN THE BAST AND 
WEST. Six Lectures delivered at Oxford. Demy 8vo. 



LECTURE ON THE EARLY HISTORY OP INSTI- 
TUTIONS. Demy 8vo. 9s. 

DISSERTATIONS ON EARLY LAW AND CUSTOM. 

Demy 8vo. 9s. 

POPULAR GOVERNMENT. Four Essays. Cheap Edition. 
Large Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net. 

INTERNATIONAL LAW. The Whewell Lectures, de- 
livered at Cambridge in 1887. Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. 
8 



NEW (SECOND) EDITION 

MODERN TARIFF HISTORY. Showing the Origin and 
Growth of Tariffs in Germany, France, and the United 
States. By Percy Ashley, M.A. Demy 8vo. 
10s. 6d. net. 

" A careful, fair, and accurate review of the modern fiscal history 
of three countries." — Times. 

'"HE SERVICE OF THE STATE: Four Lectures on 
the Political Teaching of T. H. Green. By J. H. 
MuiRHEAD, M.D., LL.D., Professor of Philosophy in the 
University of Birmingham. Demy 8vo. 3s. 6d. net. 

OVER-SEA BRITAIN: A Descriptive Record of the 
Geography, the Historical, Ethnological, and Political 
Development, and the Economic Resources of the 
Empire. 

THE NEARER EMPIRE. The Mediterranean, British 
Africa, and British America. By E. F. Knight, Author 
of "Where Three Empires Meet," "Small Boat 
Sailing," etc. With 9 Coloured Maps. Crown 8vo. 
6s. net. 

" In this book Mr Knight has turned his travel sketches into a 
gazetteer without losing the brilliance of the one or failing to obtain 
the fulness and accuracy jof the other. It is a wonderful literary 
feat ! Anyone taking up the volume without knowing its instructive 
character, would read to the end for pleasure ; and yet it is a book 
which no newspaper office nor anyone who requires works of reference 
can possibly do without." — Morning Post. 

AUSTRIA-HUNGARY. By Geoffrey Drage, Author of 
" Russian Affairs." With Maps. Medium Bvo. 21s.net. 
"Mr Drage has aimed, he tells us in the preface, at making a 
permanent contribution to the subject; and after a critical and 
exhaustive examination of the work, we can aver that he has 
succeeded. . . . The standard work of the time on Austria- 
Hungary. " — Globe. 

THE TRIBE, AND INTERTRIBAL RELATIONS IN 
AUSTRALIA. By Gerald C. Wheeler, B.A., late 
Martin White Student in Sociology in the University 
of London. With a Prefatory Note by Edward A. 
Westermarck, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at the 
University of London. Demy 8vo. 3s. 6d. net. 
4 



INDIAN PROBLEMS. By S. M. Mitra. With an Intro- 
duction by Sir George Birdwood, K.CI.E., C.S.I., 
LL.D. Large Crown 8vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

" A useful and candid contribution to the discussion of many of 
the perplexing issues which engross the attention of Indian admini- 
strators. Sir George Birdwood calls Mr Mitra's pages ' earnest, 
laboured, accurate, elementary, and weighty,' praise which is not too 
high even from such an authority . . . such a work is specially 
welcome. " — Times. 



WESTERN CULTURE IN EASTERN LANDS: A 

Comparison of the Methods adopted by England and 
Russia in the Middle East. By Arminius Vambery, 
C.V.O., Author of "Travels in Central Asia," "History 
of Bokhara/* etc. Medium 8vo. 12s. net. 

** It is always a pleasure to read anything published by Professor 
Vambery, and it is more especially so when he deals with the great 
problems of the influence of Europe upon Asia, and of the possibuities 
of Asiatic development, upon which his knowledge and experience 
exceed those of any living writer." — Morning Post, 

ANCIENT AND MODERN IMPERIALISM: An 
Address delivered to the Classical Association in 
January 1910. By the Earl of Cromer, G.C.B., 
O.M., G.C.M.G. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net. 

Mr Roosevelt, in his Guildhall speech, said: — *• Those of you 
who know Lord Cromer's excellent book in which he compares 
Ancient and Modern Imperialism, need no words from me to prove 
that the dominion of modern civilised nations over the dark places of 
the earth has been fraught with widespread good for mankina" 



THE INDUSTRIAL ORGANISATION OP AN INDIAN 
PROVINCE. By Theodore Morison, formerly Princi- 
pal of the Mohammedan College at Aligarh. Demy 
8vo. 10s. 6d. net. 

The author is mainly concerned with the condition of the masses 
who live by the land, and with all that affects their position, whether 
as agricultural labourers, yeomen, tenant farmers or payers of revenue. 
The literature on the subject would fill a good sized library ; but Mr 
Morison approaches it from a different standpoint from that usually 
taken by the Indian officials. 

** His opinions are expressed with lucidity and moderation, and 
even where they provoke dissent they demand the closest attention." 
— Manchester Guardian. 

5 



LIFE AND LABOUR IN INDIA. By A. Yusuf-Ali, 
M.A., LL.M. (Cantab.), M.R.A.S., Barrister-at-Law of 
His Majesty's Indian Civil Service. With Illustrations, 
including Drawings by Native Artists. Demy 8vo. 
12s. net. 

'• Mr Murray may be congratulated on the publication, in a hand- 
some illustrated volume, of an interesting work. The author shows 
wide reading and much power of description, some pathos, and also 
some sense of humour. The work is very different from the ordinary 
British work on India, and equally different, though in another way, 
from the Congress works, as well as from the French works upon our 
Eastern Empire. The general reader will be delighted with the 
friendly explanation of the normal inferiority of girls to boys in the 
Indian social system." — Athenceum, 

THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIVES: Their Present 
Condition and Progress. Edited by the South African 
Native Races Committee. Demy 8vo. 6s. net. 

** The Committee are perfectly fair and candid. They start with 
no prepossession except a desire to deal honestly by the natives . . . 
and their conclusions are modest and convincing. " — Spectator. 

"It is by far the fullest and most careful statement of facts 
relating to the Kaffirs that has yet appeared, and should command 
considerable attention, in view of the political reconstruction of South 
Africa which is now seen." — Nation. 



CANADIAN CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT : 

Shown by Selected Speeches and Despatches, with 
Introductions and Explanatory Notes. By H. E. 
Egerton, M.A., Fellow of All Souls' College, Beit 
Professor of Colonial History at Oxford ; and W. L. 
Grant, M.A., Beit Assistant Lecturer on Colonial 
History at Oxford. With Maps. Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. 
net. 

** Our authors are sound guides, and the selection of state papers 
made by them merits the highest praise." — Athenceum. 

" A record of constitutional history which all persons aspiring to a 
share in solving the great imperial questions of the day will do well 
to read, mark; learn, and inwardly digest . . . the book is admir- 
able in every way ... it will not only meet the special require- 
ments for which it was compiled, but it will also act as a guide to 
knowledge in many other quarters, both in the old country and in the 
British Dominions beyond the Seas. "— j&wpw'« Review. 



JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 



Popular Editions of 

Mr. Murray's Standard Works 

Each 2/6 net 
JOHN MURRAY: A Publisher and his Friends. 

Memoir and Correspondence of the second John Murray, with an 
Account of the Origin and Progress of the House, 1768 — 1843. By 
Samuel Smiles, LL.D. Edited by Thomas Mackay. With 
Portraits. In One Volume. 

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LIEUTENANT- 

GENERAL SIR HARRY SMITH, 1787—1819. Edited by 
G, C. Moore Smith. With Map and Portrait. 

BIRD LIFE AND BIRD LORE. By r bosworth 

Smith. With Illustrations. 

A GOTSWOLD VILLAGE ; or. Country Life and Pursuits 
in Gloucestershire. By J. Arthur Gibbs. With Illustrations. 

THE VOYAGE OF THE **FOX" IN THE 

ARCTIC SEAS IN SEARCH OF FRANKLIN AND HIS 
COMPANIONS. By the late Admiral Sir F. Leopold 
M^^Clintock, R.N. A Cheap Edition. With Portraits and other 
Illustrations and Maps. 

THE STORY of the BATTLE of WATERLOO. 

By the Rev. G. R. Gleig. With Map and Illustrations. 

LIFE OF LORD ROBERT GLIVE, By the Rev. 

G. R. Gleig. Illustrated. 

THE WILD SPORTS and NATURAL HISTORY 

OF THE HIGHLANDS. By Charles St. John. With 
Illustrations. 

ROUND THE HORN BEFORE THE MAST. 

By A. Basil Lubbock. With Illustrations. 

LETTERS FROM HIGH LATITUDES. Being some 

Account of a Voyage in 1856, in the Schooner Yacht Foam, to 
Iceland, Jan Meyen, and Spitzbergen. By the late Marquess of 
Dufferin. With Portrait and Illustrations. 

FIELD PATHS and GREEN LANES in SURREY 

AND SUSSEX. By Louis J. Jennings. Illustrated. 

THE LION HUNTER OF SOUTH AFRIGA. 

Five Years' Adventure in the Far Interior of South Africa. With Notices 
of the Native Tribes and Savages. By R. GORDON CUMMING. 
With 16 Woodcuts. 

Full list post free on application* 



Murray's Shilling Library. 

Crown 8vo. Clothe Is, net each. 



ROUND THE HORN BEFORE THE MAST. 

An Account of a Voyage from San Francisco round Cape Horn to 
Liverpool in a Fourmasted "Windjammer," with experiences of the 
life of an Ordinary Seaman. By Basil Lubbock. With Illus- 
trations. 

THE NATURALIST ON THE RIVER AMAZ- 
ONS. A Record of Adventures, Habits of Animals, Sketches of 
Brazilian and Indian Life, and Aspects of Nature under the Equator, 
during Eleven Years of Travel. By H. W. Bates, F.R.S. 
Numerous Illustrations. 

DEEDS OF NAVAL DARING ; or, Anecdotes 

of the British Navy. By Edward Giffard. 

ENGLISH BATTLES AND SIEGES OF THE 

PENINSULA WAR. Portrait. By Sir Wm. Napier. 

SELF-HELP. With illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance. 
By Samuel Smiles. With Portrait. 

LIFE AND LABOUR; or Characteristics of Men 

of Industry, Culture and Genius. By Samuel Smiles. 

THE LIFE OF DAVID LIVINGSTONE. By 

William Garden Blaikie. With Portrait. 

SINAI AND PALESTINE in connection with 

their History. By the late DEAN Stanley. With Maps. 

THE PAINTERS OF FLORENCE. From the 

13th to the 16th Centuries. By Julia Cartwright (Mrs. Ady). 
With Illustrations. 

A LADY'S LIFE IN THE ROCKY MOUN- 
TAINS. By Mrs. Bishop (Isabella Bird). With Illustrations. 

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. By the Right 

Rev. Charles Gore, D.D,, LL.D., Bishop of Birmingham. 
WORKS BY A, C, BENSON. 

THE THREAD OF GOLD. 

THE HOUSE OF QUIET. An Autobiography. 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



QC Watson, (Sir) Charles Moore 

89 British weights and 

G8W2 measiires 



P&ASci